Saturday, February 23, 2013

Jamie Oliver's Minestrone

It's cold, cloudy, wet, dark and to top it I ran out whole basil leaves as I chopped what I had  for the soup, so had non for garnish . Low light  plus poor garnish :(( result - photographic disaster. It might be 'World Margarita Day' today yesterday but my heart is set to drink the minestrone and my heart is set on taking pictures ( read great pictures). After two three hours of agony with over 100 pictures of the soup and a bad neck pain (literally) I went to pick up finally teen from school. After my mono syllable answers she figured I had created a disaster in the kitchen, I told her the soup is awesome but yes the kitchen is in disaster as I might have tried at least 5 different soup bowls and heated the soup so many times and the pictures are worth the is then that I had a brain wave and begged her to model for me. On second thought I did not have to beg as she readily agreed and even thou am not very happy with the end result, but at least it is worth sharing ( my creative side is dead and I don't even know if these pix are worth sharing) anyway the pictures might not be 5 star but the recipe is ! And if you want to make me feel better please go ahead, I would love that, a hug or a smile often cheers me up .. and as for the neck pain I took acetaminophen already .

Am glad I took the evening off , a good nite sleep and with my favorite (read huge) cup of coffee  am back with renewed enthusiasm and fresh ideas threatening to overflow. I will still welcome hugs, so don't hold yourself back:)) hope you are all having a great weekend.

I have been reading Jamie's Italy by Jamie Oliver - I just love the book and want to try everything and eat almost everything in the book ....
Jamie is very passionate about his minestrone and recommends 'soffritto' meaning slowly frying vegetables to give a strong intense flavor base. For the broth he recommends a bollito misto (mixed boiled meats) he also recommends a light chicken broth or ham (though it is very British, but popular in Tuscany too) but... since am a vegetarian my only option was vegetable soup and loved the intense flavors.

7 oz. cannellini or borlotti beans, if dried soaked overnight. (I used kidney bean)
1 bay leaf
1 tomato, squashed
1 small potato, peeled
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
olive oil
2 small red onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
1/2 head of fennel, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
basil small bunch leaves and stem separated
2 14 oz can of plum tomatoes
2 small zucchini, quartered and sliced
a glass of red wine
1/2 lb. swiss chard or spinach, washed and roughly chopped
2 cups of vegetable stock
2 oz. dried pasta
extra virgin olive oil
block of parmesan cheese to serve
crushed red pepper (optional)
Add fresh or dried and soaked beans to a pan of water with the bay leaf, squashed tomato, and potato - this flavors the beans and help soften the skins.  cook until tender. drain discard the bay leaf, tomato and potato, season with pepper, salt and EVOV.

While the beans are being cook, make the soffrito. Heat some olive oil in a pan, add onions, carrots, celery, fennel, garlic and finely sliced basil stems. Sweat slowly over low flame, with the lid ajar for 15-20 min until soft, not brown.  Add tomatoes, zucchini, and red wine, simmer for 15 min.

Add chard or spinach, stock and beans.  Put the dried into the soup, stir and simmer till the pasta is cooked.

If the soup is thick add more stock or reserved cooking water.  Season with salt and pepper, I got tempted and had to add crushed red pepper ( u know my thing for spice ;)) Serve hot with torn basil leaves, a dash of olive oil and some freshly grated parmesan. Enjoy with your favorite bread. While you enjoy this soup, I need to head back to get my kitchen in order, there seems to be props everywhere.

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