It’s finally beginning to feel like fall here in beautiful southern Arizona and time to start making soup!
|The Minestrone is all cooked. I will reheat and drop in the
meatballs when the soup is served and top with chopped
fresh parsley and a little parmesan cheese.
An Italian classic, you do not really need a recipe for Minestrone Soup, but it generally contains seasonal vegetables–carrot, onion, celery, potato; beans-cannellini or some other type of bean; pasta or rice. This soup dates back to 30 AD where a recipe appears in Marcus Apicius’s ancient cookbook De Re Coquinaria (which translates to On The Subject of Cooking) described as polus, a Roman soup made up of farro, chickpeas, and fava beans, with onions, garlic, lard, and greens thrown in…that sounds a little heavy to me, and in fact, over time the recipe has changed quite a bit to include more veg and depending on the season and availability meat or chicken.
I like to add meatballs to Minestrone, either beef or chicken, and this morning decided on spicy chicken meatballs. Again, completely up to you. Here is the recipe I came up with.
1 Qt. chicken stock (I had some in the freezer, which made things easier.)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 potato, peeled and chopped
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried sage
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes, in their broth
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 15 oz. can Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained well
1 cup pasta (I used cellentani which is a thick curly pasta and holds up well in soup.)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
4 Tbsp. fresh oregano (or 1 tsp. dried)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt/Pepper to taste
|You don’t have to chop the veg too finely.
I like them kind of chunky because this is a rustic soup.
In a large stock or soup pot bring chicken stock to a boil. Add celery and onions. Reduce heat to a gentle boil (medium-low). Cook for 10 minutes. Add carrots and potatoes. Continue cooking another 10 minutes. Add 1 cup diced tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, sage, bay leaf and cook another 10 minutes. Add beans and cook another 10 minutes. Add pasta, garlic, fresh parsley and oregano. If you are eating the soup right away cook for 10 minutes. If not, only cook the pasta for 5 minutes or it will get mushy. Take off heat, let cool, and either package for fridge for the next couple days or freeze to have down the road.
And, next is my recipe for SPICY CHICKEN MEATBALLS. Make these meatballs as mellow or spicy as you like. Just reduce red pepper flake and black pepper to get a milder ball.
6 chicken tenders
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp. minced onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. hot red pepper flake
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp. dried Italian herb mix
2 Tbsp. plus more for frying meatballs
To start remove any chewy white tendons. This is kind of a pain, but you will be happier with the end result…a much more tender ball.
Next, chop the chicken breasts. I used my gorgeous meat clever that my husband, Jerry bought me earlier this year, but any very sharp knife will work. Mince the chicken.
Add garlic, onion, salt, peppers, 1 egg, panko crumbs and parmesan. Gently work all ingredients using your hands until well mixed. Form balls (the chicken will be quite loose and moist) and let the balls sit for about 15-20 minutes to help them firm up and dry out a bit.
|This recipe made 17 balls so you may not
need all for the Minestrone, but they freeze well.
Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet until smoking. By starting on a high heat you get a nice crust on the ball. Gently drop a few balls in, lower heat, and brown well on all sides rolling around in the pan. Cook only 6 balls at a time to give yourself room to turn the balls. Reduce heat further and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove and repeat with uncooked balls.
Many soups, including this one, offer a license for total creativity. Please let me know what you come up with!
Here’s another soup I put together that turned out really well. I recently learned that wild mushrooms, especially these Asian mushrooms are really good for you. Healthy + Tasty = GOOD.
WILD MUSHROOM AND LENTIL SOUP
This is another recipe where you can take many liberties, but here are the basics.
1 Qt. rich chicken stock*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, minced
1 package each of, all roughly chopped:
Bunashimeji-I think these were the Enoki variety
Maitake aka Hen-of-the-Wood
Bunapi or white beech mushroom (I have so much to learn about Japanese mushrooms and cuisine in general!)
1 Tbsp. Yuzo** (You don’t really need this, but I do think this paste gave a great flavor and depth to the soup. You can get it online or it might be equally good without out it and choose other flavors of your choice.)
1/2 cup roughly chopped Thai (or regular) Basil
2 cups cooked lentils
Bring 1 quart of rich chicken broth to boil in a large soup pan. Add minced onion and garlic and slowly simmer for about 20 minutes. I wanted this soup to be all about the mushrooms so did not want to heavily season with other herbs.
Lower heat to a very gentle boil and add Yuzo and all the mushrooms. Simmer for another 20 minutes. Add the pre-cooked lentils and basil and simmer for another 15 minutes. Delicious on the spot or holds well in the fridge for 10 days.
*To make rich chicken stock: Make a regular chicken stock and then re-cook with another batch of bones and herbs. Yum! Yum! Yum! Very rich and so much better for you because of all that collagan, but most importantly the taste.
** A quick word about Yuzo Kosho. I am still learning about yuzu, but this spice is amazing! This paste is made from fresh chiles, fermented with salt along with the zest and juice of yuzu, a tart, fragrant East Asian citrus. It’s lemony, limey, luscious and delicious! I will try it in many different recipes.
IS THAT ALL FOR TODAY?
I COULD GO ON ALL NIGHT TALKING
ABOUT FOOD, FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!
HOPE YOU ENJOYED THESE COUPLE OF SOUP RECIPES AND PLEASE REMEMBER…SOUP IS NOT LIKE ‘BAKING’…YOU DON’T HAVE TO MEASURE AND YOU CAN GET VERY CREATIVE.
HOLIDAY SEASON FAST APPROACHING WITH MY HUSBAND’S BIRTHDAY (NOVEMBER 13th)
BEING THE KICK OFF FOR US!
GOOD TIMES AHEAD IN THE KITCHEN!
STAY TUNED FOR MANY FUN FOOD ADVENTURES.