Minestrone

Minestronne

 

Nothing screams homey, comfort and belly-warming to me more than Minestrone.  Growing up, it was my mother’s preferred way to get me to eat veggies, mine too now, of course; I also remember watching my uncle carefully chop all the vegetables, and explain to me in which order they should be sautéed, for how long, and of course, his secret ingredient.

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The hard rind of the parmesan cheese.  He rarely threw out any food out, there was always some use for it.  I remember as a kid, watching that incredibly hard and inedible rind being plopped into the soup mid way, and upon its extraction, it was a soft, gooey, gloop of a mess.  For me it was alchemy, magic.  And the taste of the soup…..incredible!

I still make my minestrone exactly the way my uncle taught me, digging out as many veggies from the fridge as I can, but always respecting their taste profiles.  I remember him saying never to put eggplant in, as it would give the soup a more acid taste.  So I don’t use it.  Also, he used broccoli, but this time I found this beauty:

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I think this is purple cauliflower, but the taste seems to be a cross between the two.  It gave the overall dish another beautiful color profile, which I love…..I love eating the rainbow, it just makes me feel so healthy!

The recipe I am going to give to you is by no means written down anywhere, I always make it from my memory.  So, the amounts are not perfect, so hang in there.

So, here’s what you’re going to need

Serves 8-10

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 stalk of celery, sliced

1/2 leek, halved lengthwise and sliced

6-7 cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 handful of green beans, chopped into 2 inch sticks

1/2 zucchini, diced

6-7 broccoli or purple cauliflower florets, chopped

1/2 cup white beans, from can or jar

1 tsp dried oregano

3 cups vegetable stock

1 large can (800 g) crushed tomatoes

1 parmesan cheese rind (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots, celery and leeks.

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Sprinkle in some salt and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes.  Raise the heat to medium high, and add the rest of the veggies, except for the beans.

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Saute until the mushrooms are just starting to soften, about 6 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the vegetable stock, crushed tomatoes, parmesan rind and oregano.  Let it come to a boil, and then lower the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Five minutes before you take it off the heat, add the beans.  Taste and add more salt if needed, and some pepper.

Serve with the grated parmesan.

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From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Parmesan Zucchini Loaf

WARNING!!!!  THIS BREAD IS HIGHLY ADDICTIVE.  I hadn’t made this bread in years.  It’s a really old recipe a friend of my mother’s passed on to me, I remember way way way before I even thought of going to culinary school, I had tried this one Thanksgiving, and I became wholly enamoured with it.  So I picked up my very old and tattered recipe book and decided to make it again, to see if it still stood the test of time, you know, how sometimes you try something when you’re young and then you try it again and you think to yourself, what is the big deal?  Well, I made it the other day, because of my surplus of Zucchini’s, and it’s gone, daddy gone.

It’s such a simple recipe, fool-proof even.  Just the smell emanating from the oven will start to make your tummy rumble, my daughter even asked me if I was making pizza.  Then, you have to wait 10 torturous minutes before you cut into it……the agony!  But once you have one slice, you want another, and another and another.  This is a quick bread, and a very eggy loaf.  But the combination of the parmesan and the zucchini….wow.

So, here’s what you’re going to need:

2 small zucchini or 1 large, cubed

1 cup Bisquick or 1 cup regular flour + 2 tsp baking powder

5 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tsp garlic salt

In a large bowl mix the bisquick, eggs and oil.  Add the parmesan, zucchini and garlic salt.  Coat a bread tin with butter, and add the dough.  Bake in a 190 C oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and it’s golden on top.  Check it mid-way through the baking process though, remember my oven sucks.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla