Friday, February 17, 2012

Food on Friday: Time for Minestrone Soup

I know, I know, there are a million recipe websites, foodie blogs, cookbooks, and cooking channels on TV that could give you a plethera of recipe ideas. That is why I am going to give out recipes sparingly, but this dreary and drab Friday in Dallas calls for one of my most frequented (since being married to Chance).

Mission: Minestrone Soup

Why minestrone? My husband absolutely loves this soup--the second time around. You see I made this recipe straight out of a cookbook (and have since tweaked it) however, I did not use one very important ingredient, and the result was a very, very bland combination of some water and cooked vegetables. Needless to say: yuck!

However, when I actually used the special ingredient that the original recipe said was OPTIONAL (ugh!) the soup was an instant hit. Can you guess the ingredient? Drumroll please... BACON!

What to use:
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
About 1 lb. of hickory smoked bacon (cut into inch pieces)
1/2 c. or less chopped italian parsley
2 tbsp. minced garlic - by far my most used ingredient in all dishes in the Sumner house
3 carrots, peeled & chopped
1 sweet onion (or yellow)
2 russet potatoes, peeled & cubed
2-3 celery stalks, leaves removed & stalks chopped
1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (preferably Hunt's or Muir's or the organic kind from Costco)
2-3 cups vegetable or chicken stock (or water.. but stock is better!)
2 handfuls of spinach or cabbage, chopped
2 small zucchini, diced into 1/4 in. pieces
1 cup risotto rice (Arborio rice)
1-14.5 oz can of cannellini beans (Great White Northern beans)
>>Remember that you can omit any vegetable or substitute as you deem wise

How to: Crock Pot-style
1) Prep takes a while, so chop bacon first, while letting olive oil heat up on a medium skillet on medium heat on the stove,
2) Add garlic and parsley, once heated. Let cook for about 1 min.
3) Add bacon and reduced to medium-low to avoid splashing oil, cook bacon through (about 8 minutes)
4) While you are letting the bacon cook, chop your carrots, onion, celery, potatoes, spinach, and zucchini. Add all these to the CROCK POT (or if you do not own a crock pot, use a big dutch oven and cook bacon, garlic, parsley in it first, then add the above veggies and cook for about 20 minutes with broth). Once the bacon (garlic + parsley) is done cooking, you can add it to the crock pot too.
5) Add broth, tomatoes, Arborio rice, and cannellini beans. Stir to mix together. Broth should not quite cover all the ingredients. (If using dutch oven, let it cook for about 30 minutes after this.)
6) Add salt and pepper to taste - if you want to.
7) Turn crock pot on to SIMMER for 20-24 hours (or LOW for 8-12 hours).

This soup [which is really more of a stew] will literally melt in your mouth. You will win over anyone who tastes this delectable dish -- husband, boyfriend, in-laws, neighbors, etc. Be warned: it is a very rich dish, so a little goes a long way (except I almost always have seconds!). Oh, and basil is most delicious as a garnish!

Enjoy the weekend & HAPPY PRESIDENT'S DAY (I am so ecstatic because I get the day off on Monday-wahoo)!

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