I cooked something! It’s not much, but it’s delicious (AND nutritious), and I think I finally figured out how to get it the way I want it. What is it? Vegetarian minestrone! Hells yeah! I make it every winter…usually only once every winter, since it makes SO MUCH SOUP that I end up freezing at least half of it. That worked out very well for me this past winter, since I got super-mega sick in the very early spring and being able to take like half a gallon or so of yummy, nutritious soup to be defrosted at Z’s place, while we took it easy and played Smash Bros Brawl.
Anyway, I’ve got absolutely no idea how close this is to traditional minestrone, besides the exclusion of meat, that is. And the tomatoes…here’s the deal. I’m still getting over my thing about chunks of tomato. I ate what was pretty much the holy grail of sandwiches (giant cubes of fresh mozzarella the same size as the chunks of creamy tofu smothered in balsamic with huge leaves of fresh basil and thick slices of tomato, on some of the most addictive focaccia ever) earlier this year and didn’t mind the substantial amount of big old slices of raw tomato in it, so I think I can get over it. I’ve always needed my tomatoes pureed to a pulp. I just unconsciously pick around the chunks of tomato in a dish until that’s all that’s left. When I first made this soup, I found myself doing that even though I loved the tomato flavor that was seeped into all the other vegetables, since I had used chopped canned tomatoes. I experimented with every other kind of canned tomato (it’s a winter dish to me!), even trying to puree my own but I don’t think the blender was powerful enough to get the consistency I wanted. I think that batch also suffered an over-noodling, though (wherein I THINK I haven’t added enough noodles, it doesn’t LOOK like there are enough noodles in there, I better add some more noodles, oh wait, crap, there are WAY TOO MANY noodles in here and now all the broth is gone and I’m sad), so it was hard to gauge the broth. This time, though, I got me a big fat can of pureed tomatoes, and found that it was a lot like tomato soup, which I adore!
This really isn’t much of a recipe. You can use whatever vegetables you have (it’s great for cleaning the freezer out). I used unpeeled chunks of red-skinned potatoes, baby carrots cut into thirds, some coarsely chopped celery, the remains of a bag of frozen mixed veggies, frozen corn, frozen green beans, rinsed canned chickpeas…I think that’s it. I had a zucchini I meant to use but I forgot about it, so it will just have to go in the lasagna I’m making tomorrow.
Anyway, you want to get a few cups of water boiling in your biggest soup pot on the stove. Open a huge can of pureed tomatoes and plunk them in the water. Mix well and add a veggie buillon cube, because yay, flavor! Add the potatoes and mix, then add some oregano…dried is fine. Add the carrots and celery and stir, then add any frozen veggies and beans and stir them in. If the broth looks too thick, add some hot water. Continue to boil until the potatoes are fork poke-able, then add some pasta…something small like elbows or broken spaghetti. Don’t add more than half a cup dry or it will soak up all your broth. Once the pasta is cooked through, spoon into bowls and top with freshly-grated parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil, if desired (I highly recommend at least the cheese, and DON’T USE THE SHAKEY KIND).
I burned my tongue and it was totally worth it. I’m sure this soup is an abomination by Italian standards, and I DO love real Italian food, but this is so easy and has like twelve layers of comfort and you can put ANYTHING YOU WANT in it!