Thursday, April 5, 2012

Basic Spingtime Minestrone

Even through spring is here, you sometimes get those kind of cold rainy days where a warm, comforting soup is called for.  But transitioning from heavy winter soups to light summer soups can be a challenge.  This minestrone, and minestrone in general, are a great way to celebrate the fruits of the season with a body and flavor that is honestly perfect for the whole year.  Zucchini, bell pepper, and carrots get me excited for the rest of the season to come and the beans and pasta keep is cozy.

Basic Springtime Minestrone
1 lrg onion, diced
2 med-lrg carrots, diced
2 lrg stalks celery, diced
2 med zucchini, diced
1/2 a lrg red bell pepper, diced
1 Tbsp minced garlic
6 C water
2 tsp vegetable base
1 14oz can cannellini bean, drained
1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
~1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano (1 tsp fresh)
1/2 tsp dried thyme (1 tsp fresh)
1/4 tsp red pepper flake (optional)
1/2 lb short cut pasta, like macaroni, cooked*
extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper

   In a  large pot, heat about 1 Tbsp oil over medium heat.  Saute onion, carrot, and celery for 5-7 minutes until just getting tender.  Add zucchini and bell pepper.  Cook 3-4 more minutes.  Add garlic, cook 1 minute.
   Add water, vegetable base that has been loosened in a little of the water, beans, salt, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flake.  Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer.  Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
   Add vinegar.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer 4-5 more minutes.
   Serve over pasta.
   Serves 4-6

*The pasta is really good cooked in the soup.  When you add the vinegar, bring soup back to a boil and cook pasta in it for 5-6 minutes, until pasta is al dente.
However, if you aren't going to eat all the soup right away, the pasta absorbs the liquid and gets mushy so it is best to cook it separately.  In plenty of boiling, salted water, cook pasta 30 sec shy of desired doneness.  For storing, allow pasta and soup to cool completely then combine them in containers.

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