Friday, October 16, 2009

Jenn brings lunch

My friend Jenn came over today to talk about art and skating, and brought bounty with her, a homemade minestrone made from farmstand vegetables, sourdough bread, and chocolate eclairs. I provided the ambience and the homemade cherry soda. A perfect finish to a week of rain and flu.

Minestrone is another "stone soup" type of dish. There are some things you must put in there to call it minestrone-- cabbage, red beans, tomato, carrots, oregano-- but otherwise pretty much anything will do. Jenn threw in some brussels sprouts she had hanging around.


The Broth:
Beef or vegetable broth, homemade or canned
1 can of whole tomatoes, or 3-5 cut up fresh tomatoes
oregano, salt, pepper

The Bulk:
Thinly sliced onion
crushed or pressed garlic* (please fresh cloves only. Dried garlic is an abomination)
Kidney beans
1/2 large or 1 small head cabbage, rough cut
coupla carrots, cut in good sized chunks
something green (broccoli, spinach, green beans, or even brussels sprouts)

If you use dried beans, give yourself enough time to plan ahead. Most packages say soak overnight, but I've found this never gets them soft enough. I've found it works better to boil them for about 20 minutes, then drain and resoak in hot water at least 2 hours. Home-picked beans from a backyard garden also need to be processed this way; they'll behave like dried. But canned beans are fine, just remember to drain them well. I like to use different colored beans, from black to pinto, for the interesting visual sometimes.

Sautee the onions and garlic in some olive oil. When the onion turns translucent, add the broth ingredients, and then pretty much right away the remaining ingredients. Simmer for an hour. More. Less if you're impatient. Make enough to save, because this stuff is better from sitting overnight.

Garnish with grated parmesan or romano cheese; serve with a nice heavy peasant bread.

Thanks Jenn!

* to peel garlic with no mess or fuss, lay each clove on its side, snip off the ends, and gently tap with the flat of a large knife. The paper will fall off easily and you can crush, chop, or put it in the garlic press.

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