Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hearty Minestrone Soup

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving! This recipe has zero turkey, stuffing or pumpkin pie in it, but I happen to have made it leading into Thanksgiving weekend. It also serves as my "untraditional" Thanksgiving meal since I'm not able to do the family feast thing back home this year.

Well, they weren't kidding on the website when they billed this soup as "a meal in itself." It's very hearty and filling. I also took their suggestion of serving it with crusty bread and a green salad, all of which was well received by the dinner guests.

For the most part, this recipe is pretty easy to make. You will need to set aside time for chopping endless vegetables, especially if you're still slow at it like me. May I also recommend you don't go swimming without goggles on before you chop the onion. You will not enjoy the resulting pain and blindness. It may be better just to wear goggles for both the swimming and the chopping.

I made a few adjustments to the recipe, mostly for the sake of convenience but also for the sake of flavour in a few cases. I was going to buy a yellow onion as required, but it was recommended to me that a white onion would have more flavour. Since I dislike onion and know virtually nothing about them, I took the advice of my sage co-shopper. I used a mixture of chicken broth that I already had on hand along with the recommended vegetable broth. Out of curiosity, how does a vegetable broth differ from a "vegetarian vegetable" broth? Aren't vegetables the same as vegetables? But I digress....

Ah, yes. The Savoy cabbage. What the heck is a Savoy cabbage? It doesn't seem to exist in these parts; at least, not at the stores I went to to find it. I settled for ordinary green cabbage, buying the smallest one I could find. I've still got nearly all of it left over - free to a good home! As for the parsley and basil, I used my dried herbs at about 1.5 - 2 times the amount called for in fresh herbs. I really should start growing some herbs sometime soon.

I already had baby carrots on hand so I used them to make adult-sized carrot shapes on my cutting board before chopping them up. It seemed like a scientific method of substitution. It was also pretty fun. I happen to have bought the chopped tomatoes with some flavour built into them, and I used my tiny winged pasta (farfalline) on request instead of the fusilli. I completely forgot the salt & pepper!

Now, it does say to drain some of the canned ingredients and not others (which I followed precisely), but in the end, I had to add another approximately 1 cup of vegetable broth to the soup as it was quite thick by that point. Presumably this would not have been the case had I cooked it at a lower temperature, but if you're crunched for time like me and your dinner guests have already arrived, you may be turning up the heat so keep the extra liquids in mind. It turned out well in the end as the guests took second helpings of soup and I didn't have to store a partial box of broth in the fridge for days.

I'm not sure exactly how long I cooked my soup for. I used the microwave for a timer while cooking the first batch of ingredients, but what I had forgotten was that the microwave beeper had been silenced a while back so I've no idea how long past that point it went before I noticed. I did use a bit of extra cooking time to get that cabbage good and soft. This might not be required with Savoy cabbage, but I can't yet say that from experience.

Overall, the soup was well received even by the person who doesn't particularly love soup. This may have been helped by the fact that mine was thickened more like stew. I've just finished the last of the soup leftovers for breakfast so the quantities on the website will last you for a few meals, more if you haven't any more guests to split it with. Enjoy!

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