Friday, August 1, 2008
Myrna's Minnesota Minestrone
Most Minnesotans have gardens and lots of vegetables that they grow. Traditionally the vegetables are put in big paper bags and given to everyone they know. Bags of tomatoes and zucchini are brought to offices and neighbors and after a few salads a lot of folks are at a loss as to what to do with them.
Toss 'em in the soup pot, or even a crock pot and make a kick ass soup. After a long day at the State Fair or whatever other summer activity you enjoy it can be so nice to come home to soup, salad and a glass of wine. it is so easy to make this ahead and warm it up. This version does not have rice or pasta, but if you want some, add it. If you have a different mix of veggies that's fine too. If you live in one of those lands of long winter you need to eat those fresh veggies while you can.
1 - 1 cup Great Northern Beans (okay you can use any bean, but you are in the North)
6 ounces salt pork or chunk bacon
10 cups chicken broth (best if you make your own but the truly lazy can use the boxed)
2 onions, chopped
2 celery stalk, chopped (plus the leaves, they add great flavor)
1 carrot, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 head savoy or curly cabbage, sliced
1 cup of garden green beans halved
3 zucchini, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 cups fresh garden tomatoes
1 pound Italian Sausage browned (Yes you can use Jimmy Dean and it will taste fine, but really how hard can it be to get some hot Italian Sausage?)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish
Chopped basil or parsley for garnish
1 Soak beans overnight in cold water. Drain beans, rinse, and place them in a large stockpot or crock pot. Add salt pork which has been chunked and browned and 6 cups of broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook gently for about 90 minutes. (overnight in the crock pot)Keep an eye on the beans, if they need more broth add it.
2 Heat oil in a separate large stockpot. Add chopped vegetables (onion, celery, carrot, garlic,) and saute until lightly browned. Add remaining vegetables and tomatoes. Add remaining 5 cups broth. Simmer for 40 to 50 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
3 Remove salt pork from beans. Dice finely. Transfer half of the beans to a food processor or a blender and blend into a paste. Add mashed beans to the vegetables. Add remaining whole beans, broth, and diced pork to vegetables.
4 Simmer 5 minutes longer. Season soup with salt and pepper. Serve with a handful of brown sausage and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese and the fresh herbs if you have them.
Serves 10-12, easily. (This recipe makes a lot of soup!)