Monday, January 23, 2012

Week 3: Soup

Week 3 came to an end with a rush of cold air and snow, the perfect time for a winter minestrone.  This is a recipe that my family has had before, although I wanted to give it a bit of my own twist.  My minestrone starts with the standard mix of carrots, celery and onions cooked in olive oil until they just start to turn translucent.  Once they achieve this state, I tossed in some sliced up salami.  I realize this is not the standard choice, but personally, I love the flavor that salami adds to the soup, even more that other more standard additions.  Finally, the potatoes that are a core component of minestrone.

With the mirepoix, potatoes and salami ready and "happy" I tossed in a bunch of standard beef stock.  With the stock in place I gave it a few minutes to come up to a nice bubbling simmer before adding in my choice of beans.  I'm a big fan of red kidney beans (in this case pre-cooked and canned, just for simplicity) and cannelloni beans for their texture and flavor.  The all important seasonings came next.  I added some minced garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves (make sure to count), a bunch of parsley and some basil to the brew.  With everything prepared I left the mix to simmer for about an hour.  I realize this is far more than is needed, but I like to give everything some time to really meld.

After an hour of gaming, I headed back into the kitchen to put the final touches and twists on my soup.  First I tossed in some diced tomatoes.  They add a bit more colour and flavor that is difficult to get anywhere else, but they can become a bit gross if left to stew for too long.  I also tossed in some fresh spinach.  Yup, spinach.  I like the extra flavor and earthiness it can add, as well as the obvious health benefits.  Plus it cooks down a lot and melds perfectly with the soup.

After about a minute (maybe two) the spinach cooked down nicely and it was time for the final addition.  Some pasta.  I really like a bit of orzo and stars in my soup.  They help thicken it up and absorb liquid making the soup a bit heartier, which is perfect for a cold dreary day.  The result of my experiment was a fantastic success.  A hearty soup that filled me up and warmed my insides, while also providing a nice healthy addition to my meals for the next several days.

Next week I'm going to tackle pan-frying, although I think I'm going to keep that one simple and go with one of my more standard meals.  Now its time to head back to the ever-present Starcraft II and the lovely Day9

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