December 13, 2010

The Great Minestrone Pasta Debate!

Anyone else out there obsessed with Top Chef like we are??  Did you see the episode where Amanda made a Minestrone without pasta and judge Eric Ripert sassed her in his amazing accent??  Well my take on minestrone is to add tortellini! 

This recipe came from the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook and has been used by my mom for years.  The first time Stud had this minestrone, he was whiney because he haaaaates minestrone and he was convinced it's gross.  I was trying to be nice and bring him dinner at his apartment, so I just laughed at him, he was clearly confused.  He finally admitted the only minestrone he'd had was from a cafeteria and I forced this on him.  He is now a convert.  And there is a three way soup tie between Lentil, Gumbo, and the below recipe.  Good thing all three are in the freezer!!!!!  I made a huge batch of this soup yesterday, and it was the perfect dinner for the very winter-y night last night.

Minestrone with Italian Sausage and Tortellini
1/3 c. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 fennel bulb, chopped
3 medium zucchini, sliced
1 1/2 c. green beans, cut in half
1 medium green cabbage, shredded
5 c. beef stock
5 c. water
1 can (35 oz) tomatoes (I used crushed and diced)
2 T. dried oregano
1 T. dried basil
2 cans cannellini beans
1 1/2 lb Italian sausage (I used half mild, half hot) - sliced and cooked
Parmesan rind
Cheese Tortellini

In a large pot (I used a 9.5 quart and it was as full as it could get), add the olive oil and onions and saute for ten minutes until the onions are translucent.  What I like about this recipe is you can go one veggie at a time, so chop one, add it in.  Let it cook while you chop the next one, and then add that one, all the way until you add the cabbage at the end.  I also like to add a pinch of salt and pepper with each addition.  Once the onions are translucent, add the carrots.  Then add the fennel, then the zucchini, and then the green beans, allowing each addition to cook for a few minutes before you add the next one.  Add in the cabbage and let cook for five minutes more.  Add the tomatoes, beef stock, water, oregano, basil, and sausage and bring to a boil.  Bury the Parmesan rind in the middle of the soup.  Once it comes to a boil, cover and let it simmer for 2 1/2 - 3 hours.  Once it's finished, add the beans.  Since this recipe feeds 10-12, most of it goes in the freezer, so I cook just enough tortellini for how much I have thawed and freeze the soup without the tortellini.  If you are planning on serving all of it in one night, it calls for a pound of tortellini.

I would actually say this soup is healthy (gasp!), and so delicious.  It has a ridiculous amount of veggies and not tooooo much sausage or pasta.  It's really thick, so it's more of a stew and the tortellini add just enough richness to make this a very satisfactory meal.  Especially when it's snowing outside, temps are in the low 20s, a fire is burning in the fire place and White Christmas is on AMC.  And a glass of wine, duh.  Last night was a goooood night. 

Oh and I actually bought pretty much all the ingredients yesterday for the soup, Stud and I calculated that the cost per serving on this is a whopping $4 (with gourmet sausage and pasta).  And it's so good!  And cheaper than most fast foods!

(This recipe also calls for one green pepper and 2 large potatoes that I omitted.  My mom never added the green pepper and now, I love this way and am too scared to add the pepper.  The potatoes are left out because I am freezing it and potatoes are not very freezer-friendly.  I would definitely add the potatoes if I was serving all of this in one night.)

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