Sunday, July 1, 2018


The pasta is Tinkyada rice shells. I left in the beans but skipped the kale.               
Note that one can could cook beans into some of the soup. Yes, that requires a second pot.

     Minestrone is a rich, complex soup in which many flavors are melded into something quite wonderful. It is also surprisingly flexible: with so many ingredients, you can certainly change a couple of them to accommodate allergies or dislikes. If every Italian cook can have their own minestrone recipe, so can you. Allergic to beans? Leave them out. Allergic to wheat? Use rice pasta. Serving a vegetarian? Skip the sausage and replace the broth with water. Prefer your kale as chips? No problem: it'll still be minestrone without it.

     It is possible to find Italian sausage that consists entirely of meat, salt and spices; be sure to read the labels.

     One reason for relying entirely on peeled fresh tomatoes rather than, say, cans of tomato sauce is to avoid corn. (See Tomato products, cannedin the Glossary.) Another is that they provide a much better flavor.

     8 c. peeled, chopped, vine-ripened tomatoes (See Produce in the 
          Glossary )
     1 Tb. oregano (See Spices in the Glossary)
     2 Tb. basil See Spices in the Glossary)
     1 tsp. black pepper See Spices in the Glossary)
     2 Tb. olive or other oil 
(See Oil in the Glossary)
     2 Tb. butter (or another 2 Tb. olive oil if butter is a problem)
     2 celery stalks, sliced
     1 carrot, sliced
     1 onion, chopped
     salt (See Salt in the Glossary)
     oil for frying (See Oil in the Glossary)
     1 lb. Italian sausage, shaped into small balls (2/3 inch or so) (Check list 
          of ingredients.)
     1 cup chopped cabbage
     1 small zucchini, chopped
     1 medium potato, peeled and diced
     8 c. chicken broth (See Broth in the Glossary)
     (optional) 2 c. cooked beans
     (optional) 2 handfuls chopped kale (stems removed)
     cooked pasta (shells, elbows or other small pieces: see Pasta and Pasta, 
          Small  in the Glossary)

     Put the tomatoes, oregano, basil and black pepper in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally.

     Meanwhile, melt the butter in the olive oil in a skillet. Add the celery, carrot, onion and a good sprinkle of salt and saute gently on medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and the onion is translucent. Set aside.

      Heat some oil in a skillet and fry the sausage balls on medium heat, rolling them around occasionally, until browned on all sides and cooked through. Discard oil and set aside.

     When the tomatoes are cooked, add the celery/carrot/onion mixture to the pot, along with the sausage, cabbage, zucchini, potato, chicken broth, beans and kale.  Simmer for half an hour or so, until the vegetables are all tender (but not mushy).
     You now have a big pot of soup. You can stir in some cooked pasta till it looks about right, heat it all just long enough to bring it back up to temperature, adjust salt to taste and serve.  However, if you anticipate that it will not all be eaten at one meal, you might prefer to add pasta only to the amount of soup you're actually going to eat immediately. Pasta continues to absorb liquid as it sits in soup in the fridge, so the broth disappears and is replaced by huge, overly soft noodles.