november 9, 2015
An incredibly satisfying yet deceptively simple soup that is perfect for a cold, wet, fall day, it gets even better with a side of old school garlic bread like my mom used to make. Warms you right up!
In this cookbook, Alice Waters does an excellent job of explaining the theory behind hearty vegetable soups and gives some adaptive techniques that suit different vegetables. For example, let the soffritto (minced onion, carrot and celery) cook longer for a more flavorful soup in fall, less so for a lighter version in spring.
The biggest difference between this and my usual minestrone, besides the butternut squash, is that the recipe doesn't call for a rind of parmesan cheese. I usually drop a rind into the pot when I make minestrone, it's a thrifty move that gives parmesan flavor without using up the edible part. But in this case, the recipe says to grate some actual cheese on top when serving.
Unfortunately, I forgot to do that. But we all ate it anyway and no one complained. There was surprisingly little whining about the squash, too. All around, a pretty solid meal.
It is a great soup to come home to, especially when warm and waiting. To do that, prepare it earlier in the day, cut the cooking time short after adding the squash and then put the soup and cooked beans into the slow cooker on warm until you get home for dinner.
Fall Minestrone (adapted from The Art of Simple Cooking p. 72):
This recipe takes 45 minutes to make. It serves 4.
It can hold in a crockpot for a few hours.
1 cup dried cannelloni, borlotti or cranberry beans, cooked (any light colored variety of bean will do)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, minced
2 carrots, minced
2 celery stalks, minced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon rosemary, chopped (I used my spice grinder, an ancient coffee grinder, for this)
1 teaspoon chopped sage
2 teaspoons salt
1 small can tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 bunch kale, stems removed, chopped
In a large pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion, celery and carrot for 15 minutes, until it is golden brown. This is the soffritto.
Add the rosemary, sage, garlic, tomatoes, and kale, cook for 5 minutes.
Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil, simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the squash and cook until tender, 10-15 minutes.
Add the beans and 1 cup of their cooking liquid.
Serve with grated cheese and a swirl of olive oil or pesto on top.