Post-Merriment Minestrone

Everyone knows tomorrow there will be resolutions aplenty.  Some may include a more healthful lifestyle, or maybe just a few more vegetables at mealtime.  Either way, this recipe can help.  Do yourself a favor and buy the ingredients today, so that come tomorrow you will be ready to make those resolutions a reality.

The reason to make this soup is the pistou (the Provençal cousin of italian pesto), which is ladled into this traditional vegetable soup, making it aromatic and rich in flavor.  This delicious recipe comes from Pasta & Co. – a legendary Seattle food shop, opened in 1981.  I grew up with Pasta & Co., so the flavors are familiar and comforting to me.  This recipe for Minestrone Genovese was published in 2002 by the original Pasta & Co. owner, Marcella Rosene, in a cookbook called Pasta & Co. By Request.  Rosene has a way of amplifying flavors in pure foods that elevates them to true loveliness.  I think you will find that this recipe, in particular, is just what the doctor ordered in the lull after December holidays.  It may even make you want to keep those pesky New Year resolutions!

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Minestrone Genovese

Makes 13 cups.  Will keep for five days, refrigerated.

 
Pistou Ingredients:
1/3 to 1/2 cup basil leaves, washed dried and finely chopped
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, put through garlic press
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup orzo or melonseed pasta
1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
 
Soup Ingredients:
6 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into a 1/4 inch dice
1 cup celery, cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 cups red potatoes, skins on and cut into a 1/2 inch dice
1/2 cup green bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/2 cup zucchini, unpeeled, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/4 cup best-quality unflavored bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
10 grinds black pepper
Optional: Very small pinch saffron
2 cups water
1 (8-ounce) can kidney beans, well rinsed and drained OR 3 cups fresh green beans, washed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes or 2 cups fresh tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch pieces including all juices
1/2 cup frozen peas or corn (add to soup frozen) – do not use if using fresh green beans (unless you incorporate fresh corn cut from the cob)
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
Parmesan cheese, grated by hand at the table, to top

 

Preparation:

In medium bowl, whisk together basil, Parmesan, tomato paste, and garlic into a thick paste.  Slowly drizzle in olive oil until it is incorporated.  Set aside.

Cook orzo in a large amount of boiling water until tender.  Drain well and fold into olive oil mixture.  Fold in Romano and set aside.

In a large soup pot, bring the 6 cups of water and the salt to a boil.  Add carrots, onion, and celery and cook 5 minutes.  Add potatoes and cook 5 minutes more.  Add bell pepper, zucchini, bread crumbs, paprika, black pepper, and saffron (if desired) and cook 5 minutes more.

Turn off heat and ladle a couple of cups of the soup into orzo mixture.  Stir well and pour back into the soup pot.  Add the 2 cups of water, kidney beans, tomatoes, frozen peas or corn, and parsley.

Stir to mix.  Serve topped with additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

 Happy New Year!

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