Minestrone Soup

Soup has an interesting reputation. It's often written off an appetizer, despite the fact many soups are hearty and filling. But soup is more than a meal starter or lunch special - it can often be a meal in itself.

I find myself most times making traditional meals - protein, vegetable, and starch, often. The mood strikes me sometimes to change things up and make a chunky, brothy stew, as it did on minestrone night.

On that note, chunky soups are my go to. I made a delightful Cheesy Vegetable Chowder some time ago. While I've learned to appreciate creamy soups more (read: Butternut Squash and Beer Soup), I prefer to stow away all the creamy soup recipes and hold them for a later day. One when I have no teeth and it's all I can eat. To each their own, right?

I can't say what brought on the minestrone craving, but it was powerful and I was determined. I picked up fresh green beans on my way home since I had most of what I needed already, and got into chop mode.

The veggie chopping took the most time on this; the soup itself is easy. I diced up the carrots, celery, onion, and chopped the green beans into small pieces.


To get the more dense vegetables cooked faster, I began adding the chopped vegetables incrementally.

It started with the onion, cooking it for a few minutes before adding in the garlic, followed by the carrot and celery. These cooked for about 5 minutes before it was time for the green beans, then the tomatoes, broth (in my case, bouillon), and seasonings. I added in a little bit of crushed red pepper because, why not? I did cut back on the liquid ingredients slightly, so feel free to add another cup of broth or water if you'd like.


I let the veggies simmer for about 10 minutes, then added in the pasta and kidney beans. Note that I used canned beans, so they were pre-cooked.


Would you look at that?


This soup was seasoned perfectly and was both flavorful and filling. I've had minestrone mainly at Italian restaurants and have often found it rather salty. Such was not the case this time. While I did not use "low sodium" versions of the tomatoes, I salted the dish lightly (given the quantity) and
liked it that way.

I made this as dinner for myself and the special man in my life and there was obviously plenty to share. We wound up with full stomachs of veggies and I ate leftovers for days (which was when it became the soup lunch previously mentioned). Would I make this again? I'm already planning on it. Try this one out.

Minestrone Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 pound green beans, chopped into 2 inch pieces
1 can stewed tomatoes
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
crushed red pepper
1 1/3 cups egg noodles

Instructions:

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of avocado oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, celery and carrot and saute for about 5 minutes, then mix in the green beans, oregano basil, teaspoon salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Continue cooking for 3-4 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and the chicken broth to the pot and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the kidney beans and pasta and cook for 10-15 more minutes, until the pasta is softened.

adapted from minestrone soup

Caramel Apple Bread

Ah, another recommended recipe, and just in time to cherish the last month of summer. To many, autumn is already beginning because it's August and schools are going back. Technically, we have until September (unless you live in Florida, where we really can't tell when summer ends), but since Autumn makes me think of golden, brown leaves and this recipe feels like something you'd find at a state fair, seeing it put me in a boots and scarves kinda mood. And that's how my brain functions. Like a rock tumbling down a hill.

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One of my colleagues is a chronic Facebook sharer. I'm always tagged in some meme or recipe. Given that I love memes, I don't find that to be an issue. And recipes! Give me all the food ideas.

Well, on at least three of these random taggings, there's been a samoa cookie-inspired recipe. I knew workiversary time was around the corner, so the most recent recipe was recorded in the mental notes. These are handy because sometimes I'm at a loss as to what I can make. Work smarter, not harder.

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At the same time as that cold dolmadakia encounter, I picked up some grape leaves. We were in Tarpon Springs, a little Greek fishing village near Tampa, Florida. It's a cute little spot right on the Gulf coast, with some Greek restaurants and shops. We were there a typically hot Florida day with bright blue skies and the smell of salty sea air. I can't think of a better place to enjoy Greek food.

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Cranberry and orange are a powerful flavor combination. I've had it in cookies before, and so muffins are an easy swap. Rather than using orange juice, I used zest, as adding liquid to batter can alter the final result. Citrus is notorious for causing curdling when you have milk/cream in something as well, and I'm still figuring that out. While I doubt the final baked result would be affected by curdling (though it would create an ugly batter), orange zest adds flavor even in small doses without affecting consistency. Easy.
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