When I was younger, I didn't like soup. I don't remember all the reasons why, but it was partially a texture thing; I don't like eating big chunks of stuff. However, I finally learned that soup was delicious when my mom pureed it and I added pasta, chunks of bread, and Parmesan cheese to the dish. The soup that converted me? My mom's minestrone. I now enjoy many kinds of soup, not all of them pureed, and after the freezing week we've been having, soup seemed like the perfect meal. This is an adaptation of my mom's soup -- the nice things about minestrone are that you don't need a lot of fresh produce, and it's very versatile. Other vegetables I think would be good in this soup: red pepper, celery, turnips (or other root veggies), squash. Vegetables I might skip: broccoli, mushrooms (I love these in other things, but not in minestrone).
Recipe served two people with extra for the next day!
2 Tbs olive oil (I also added ~1/2 tbs. of butter)
1 onion diced (I used red, but I normally use yellow)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium potatoes, cubed
1/2 sweet potato, cubed (this was leftover from my sweet potato quesadillas! It kept very well in the fridge)
2 carrots, diced (I cut these a little smaller than that potatoes, because I always feel like carrots take longer)
1 cup tomato puree
1 tsp tomato paste
1 quart vegetable broth (you could use chicken)
Parmesan rind (If you use fresh parmesan, save the rind when you're done with it and add it to soup when you add broth. It's supposed to add flavor)
1 can beans, rinsed (I used Navy beans, but I thought about using chick peas)
herbs (I used thyme and a dash of basil this time, but I've also used rosemary and oregano at other times. I think I used about a 1/2 Tbs of thyme and a few shakes of basil)
2-3 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste (beans need a good amount of salt)
1 cup cooked pasta
optional toppings: grated parmesan, good bread, fresh herbs
1. Heat oil and/or butter in a large soup pot over medium high heat.
2. When it is hot, add potatoes, onion, garlic, and carrots and saute until onions are translucent and everything is beginning to brown (~10 minutes).
3. Clear a space in the middle of the pot and add tomato paste. Cook it a little bit before mushing it around with the vegetables. Add tomato puree and let it cook a few more minutes.
4. Add broth (plus extra water, if needed), herbs, parmesan rind, bay leaves and a dash of salt and pepper. Turn up the heat and let the soup come to a boil, then turn down to simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender. When the vegetables are first starting to get tender, add the beans to the soup and put on the water for pasta. You can also cook the pasta IN the soup if you're not pureeing it. I tend to overcook the pasta when I do that, so I usually just use a different pot.
5. Remove the bay leaves (they have very sharp edges so you need to take them out) and rind! Blend the soup. (I have an immersion blender which I absolutely love since it is much easier than a regular blender. If using a regular blender, do NOT overfill and make sure to hold the top on with a dishtowel so you don't end up with hot liquid everywhere. This happened to me over the weekend when I was blending Mexican hot chocolate at my parents' house. Whoops.) Taste and add more salt/pepper/herbs, if needed.
6. Put pasta in a bowl and top with soup and any desired toppings. Enjoy!
Final thought: I really like poaching eggs in leftover soup. It's very easy -- reheat the soup on the stove (add extra water if needed -- soup can thicken up overnight), and when it's simmering, crack an egg into the middle and cover. If the egg top doesn't cook fast enough, spoon some hot liquid on top.