Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hearty Minestrone

John was out to town for three days last week, so I decided to make myself a huge pot of soup and eat it for every lunch and dinner until he returned.  I had a lot of studying to do and I couldn't be messing around with cooking and cleaning pots all the time.  Since I was going to be single-handedly eating all of this soup, I knew I needed to make it a good one, or I'd be having a bland few days.  I took the slow cooker out of the cupboard and went to work!  This minestrone is chocked full of vegetables, so it really satisfies as a meal.  If this was a less chunky soup, I would have been starving.  For me, the real essential part was adding freshly grated Parmesan to the top.  I love my minestrone filled with thin strands of cheese.  It adds a richness to the soup that a vegetable soup is normally lacking.  I never grew tired of the soup when I was eating it for half the week - and trust me, that says something.

Don't let the big pile of ingredients scare you, this is what happens when you make a soup.  You will need 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 large onion, 3 carrots, 2 celerey ribs, 2 yellow bell peppers, 3 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon dried sage, 4 cups vegetable broth, 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, 1 cup 100% vegetable juice, 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, juice and zest of 1/2 lemon, and shredded Parmesan for topping.

Other than the onion, which you dice, you want your vegetables to be roughly the same size.  I would suggest cutting the carrots smaller than I did, because they take longer to cook (or you could throw them in first).  Half-inch pieces work well for this soup.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the veggies for about 10 minutes until tender. 

If you want to reduce your dishes, don't forget to add the celery and cook it in a separate pan.  Doh.

Once your veggies are tender, add 2 cloves of mined garlic, 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, and 1/4 teaspoon dried sage. 

Toss to coat and cook a minute more. 

Now pour your veggies into your slow cooker.  Add 4 cups vegetable (or beef) broth, low sodium if you can.

Then add one can of drained and rinsed chickpeas/garbanzo beans/whatever you call 'em.

Now add 1 cup of V8 (or any kind of 100% veggie juice), 28 ounces (for me that was two cans) of diced tomatoes, with their juices, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, kosher salt, and black pepper.  Cook on low for 6-10 hours or on high for 3-5 hours.

Once the cooking is done, it's time for the finishing elements. 

Add 1/4 cup chopped parsley.

Then add 1-2 cloves minced garlic, and the zest and juice of 1/2 lemon.  Stir to combine everything and it's ready to serve!

As I mentioned, the Parmesan for me is a must.  My bowl and spoon were covered with melted cheese when I was done.  That's the sign I had just enough in there.  Enjoy this soup sometime soon before the weather warms up.  It is easy and delicious - so much so that you'll be eating it all week!

Hearty Minestrone

Makes about 10 bowls

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 celerey ribs, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 yellow bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch slices
3 cloves garlic, divided
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
4 cups vegetable broth
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup 100% vegetable juice
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
Shredded Parmesan for topping

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chopped onion, carrots, celery, and peppers to pan and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add 2 minced cloves of garlic, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, and sage.  Stir to coat vegetables and cook for another minute.  Pour vegetables into slow cooker.  To the slow cooker add vegetable broth, chickpeas, vegetable juice, diced tomatoes (with juice), red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Cover your slow cooker and cook for 3-5 hours on high or 6-10 hours on low.  When your pot is done cooking, stir in parsley, one clove of minced garlic, and the juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon.  Serve with lots of shredded Parmesan. 

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