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A ‘BIG’ Minestrone Soup and sentiments on broth

DSC_0425My sister Heather (the yoga champion) sent me this recipe last week. It is from Chow Ciao, a recipe website hosted by Fabio, a smiley Italian cook. If you’re not too into slick Italian hosts with thick Italian accents then you can skip the video and go straight to the written version here. Thanks to Fabio I now know that Minestrone literally translates to big soup. ‘Minestra’ means soup and ‘one’ added to the end of Italian words means big. So there you go, this is a BIG, tasty, healthy soup with lots of veggies to fill you up.

I adjusted it slightly. First, I only used 1 tablespoon of olive oil instead of three. I left out the celery and used kale and spinach for the greens. I doubled down on the cannellini beans, used tomato paste because I didn’t have any marinara and left out the cheese. Lastly I used whole wheat penne.

I made the broth simultaneously. Just throw all the scraps and ends from your veggies into a big pot of water and boil away while cooking your soup. Add a bay leaf if you like. Then strain off the liquid and you’ve got a lovely, no salt, made from scratch broth that is all you need to complete your soup.

My father loved making his own broth. He made big batches of it and kept it in the fridge or froze it. He took such pride in it. I remember one day I was cooking with him and I asked him if he had any broth, expecting him to produce a store bought carton or a bouillon cube. He said “Broth? Of course I have broth, darling!” Beaming, he produced a huge jar of homemade broth. Each time I make broth I remember his smiling face and his prideful productions and I smile knowing he’s still with me.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 cup diced red onion
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 cup carrots chopped
1 cup fennel chopped
1 cup zucchini chopped
1 cup red potatoes chopped
2 cups kale, bottom stems removed and chopped
2 cups spinach stems removed and chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups cannellini beans
1 cup whole wheat penne, cooked al dente and drained

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and cook for a minute or two, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the carrots and cook until softened slightly, about 2-3 minutes. Add the fennel, zucchini and potatoes, stirring well. Let the veggies cook for another 2-3 minutes and then add the greens and season with salt and pepper. Let the veggies wilt and release some of their water before adding the stock. Add the stock, stir well and bring to a boil. Add the tomato paste, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add the penne and the cannellini beans, cook for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Serve topped with a handful of torn basil and a slice of crusty sourdough.

Makes 4-6 servings

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