Monday, May 7, 2012

Vegetarian Minestrone, minus the pasta

Still struggling to get through the produce box every two weeks, but this seems to be my go to, a big pot of soup full of veggies, greens, and beans for a little extra protein.  I made this last week for a last minute dinner party, and again, it's easy to tweak and substitute to your hearts content.  I should have planned ahead better seeing as my friends called around 6 to see what they could bring, and I realized I didn't yet know what I was making.  However, this soup comes together quickly, and with a quick salad of homemade croutons, blanched green beans, and halved grape tomatoes with lots of balsamic, it made for a nice dinner.

You could also make it a proper minestrone by adding some small pasta, either pre-cooked or raw about 10 minutes before it will be done.  For greens, I had a big bunch of huge spinach (ie not baby) and some curly kale.  I didn't bother de-ribbing the spinach, but it was definitely necessary for the kale.  

Vegetarian Minestrone, minus the pasta:
Serves 6-8

3 Tbs olive oil
1 large leek, white and light green parts, cleaned and sliced into half coins
4 stalks celery, washed and diced
3 carrots, washed and diced
2 Tbs salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 medium zucchini, washed and diced
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
2 cans (14 oz.) diced tomatoes
4-5 cups vegetable broth or water
3 cups chopped (and de-stemmed, if necessary) greens (i.e. collard greens, kale, chard, spinach, celery leaves, broccoli rabe, etc)
2 cans (14 oz.) white beans, drained and rinsed
3 Tbs red wine vinegar

In a large pot, add olive oil and heat on medium high. Add the chopped leeks, carrots, and celery stalks, as well as all your spices plus salt and pepper to your preference, and cook until softened, about 5-10 minutes, stirring every so often. Add the zucchini, and cook for another 5 minutes.

De-glaze the pan by adding the wine and tomatoes (with their juices) and giving the whole pot a good stir, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Then add your broth or water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer for 5-10 minutes and then add your greens and beans. Simmer long enough to wilt the greens and re-heat the beans, about 3-5 minutes.

Taste for salt and pepper and acid.  Add the red wine vinegar (if needed) and give another good stir to incorporate.  The soup is done when all your vegetables are cooked through and the greens are wilted.

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