I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions—at least I don’t call them resolutions. Like most people, resolutions that I make, if any, tend to fizzle
months weeks days after I make them. The solution: stop making resolutions to do things; just do them. A couple of years ago, I was determined to master bread. I never mastered it, but I’m a lot more comfortable making my own pizza dough and I can even make croissants. Last year, I was determined to learn how to cook beef. I mastered steak like you wouldn’t believe, and by year’s end I could make a perfect roast beef. While you saw the pizza dough appear here, you never saw the beef. And therein lies the problem and my goal for this year.
I’d like to get back to posting more—recipes mostly. I’ve always got a pile of things I’d like to make and share, and the problem is rarely in the making. My problem is the sharing. I just don’t get to it. Or I get far too ambitious and quickly overwhelm myself. Example? Well, last November, I was convinced that I could post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And then I didn’t. I cooked the food. I took the process shots. When it came to the final shot and the writing, well, I kept hitting those invisible walls. Either the writing wasn’t coming to me or the photographs were not what I wanted at all.
Despite the fact that I have at least a hundred and fifty recipes (I‘m really not exaggerating here) that I’d like to try to share, I’ve managed to narrow things down. The goal: one recipe a week for fifty-two weeks. I know which recipes are for which weeks, and my goal is to post them on Mondays. Will I beat myself up if I don’t do it? No. But I’m willing to give it a shot. And I am right here and right now making the call that even if the photos aren’t all that (kind of like they aren’t today), well, I’ll just have to get over it. I’m learning and the way I learn best is by doing, and if I’m not doing, then I’m not learning. Right? Right.
That said, here’s recipe number one: an easy, peasy (okay, no peas here) soup perfect for January. And it’s supposed to be healthy, too; I am more interested in the flavor factor.
Adapted from Ellie Krieger’s Minestrone Soup for Food Network magazine
Note: You can certainly up the vegetable ante here—a larger onion, more garlic, carrots, and celery. I kept mine toned down because I foolishly hoped that my family would devour it. While the husband did eat a full bowl full of soup, the kids turned their noses up. If it isn’t chicken noodle soup, then they aren’t having any of it. Turn about is fair play, though. I don’t like chicken noodle soup.
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large stalk of celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1- 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1- 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1- oz. can low sodium chicken stock
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Italian seasoning, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste (optional)
1- 16 oz. can dark kidney beans
1- 16 oz. can light kidney beans
1 cup dried macaroni (or ditali or fusilli)
Have you ever seen an easier list of ingredients?
Okay, maybe you have; however, I’m pretty impressed with how just a few ingredients can become something so delicious. I do have to say, try to use an olive oil of a little higher quality. I was out of the better stuff (not even the good stuff, since I usually can’t afford that kind), and the Walmart brand had to do in a pinch. Yeah. I should have gone with my first instinct and used the vegetable oil instead. Also,the can of diced tomatoes here is larger than I called for. I couldn’t find smaller ones, so I just measured out the right amount and saved the remainder for later use.
If you haven’t done so already, prep your veggies. I tried to dice mine all roughly the same size– about 1/2 inch. Not perfect. We’ll call them rustic.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or a large pot over medium heat. The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons. I really think you could get away with only 1.
Cook the diced onion for a few minutes until it’s translucent. Then add the minced garlic.
Use a lower heat if your pot is thin like mine. (Woohoo for Revere Ware! We received this set as a wedding present almost twelve years ago. Might be time to invest in some new cookware.) If you don’t, then your onions and garlic will go from pretty to dark brown way too fast. Cook until fragrant—about 20-30 seconds. Too brown makes it bitter.
Toss in the diced celery and carrots
and allow them to cook for about four or five minutes until tender.
Then season the mixture with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. I only added the garlic powder because the seasoning tasted a little flat to me.
Add all of the tomatoes and the chicken stock. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and allow it to simmer for about 20 minutes.
You might want too check the seasoning at this point again. Or you might just want to taste it because you want to taste it.
After the soup has simmered for a while, add the kidney beans, and bring the soup back to a steady simmer.
Then add the macaroni and allow the soup to cook for 10-15 minutes more until the pasta is tender. I think different pasta, like ditali (which looks like little rings) or fusilli (tight, thin corkscrews) would work much better than macaroni, but macaroni was all I had in the pantry. And even better than using any pasta may be to use no pasta at all.
Garnish with shredded cheddar and fresh basil, if desired.
Yield: 8-10 servings—plenty left over to freeze
Another Note: The longer the soup sits, the more liquid the pasta will absorb. Don’t be surprised if you put it in the ‘fridge and come back the next day to discover that the liquid has disappeared and in its stead are giant poufs of macaroni.