Soup Weather (part three)
I make chicken stock all winter. I cook it in my extra large stock pot, keep some in my fridge, and freeze the rest. If I open my freezer and learn that I have used up all of my chicken stock, I panic a little, and make some more. I use the stock in rice bowls and risottos. Mostly I use it to make soups.
Of the soups in rotation in my kitchen, minestrone has become my family's favorite, and the one I make most often. It's flavorful and warming. Full of chickpeas and vegetables, it's robust enough for a meal when paired with a salad and baguette heated in the oven and smeared with butter. I need to plan ahead a little to make my minestrone, but once I have all the ingredients, it can go from stove to table in under 1 hour.
The basic ingredients include:
1 savoy or green cabbage, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
3-4 zucchini, chopped or 1-2 cups string beans, prepped and cut in half
1 cup chickpeas (I start with dried beans, soak and cook them. It's okay to use canned to save time.)
1 cup diced potatoes
2-3 Parmesan rinds
3-4 strips bacon, diced (optional)
1 handful of fresh basil
2 tablespoons tomato paste or 1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
To make minestrone, I sautée the diced bacon for about 10 minutes in a large soup pot, then I had the onions, and cook the mixture for 15 minutes on a low heat until the onions are soft. I then add the cabbage, potatoes, and zucchini or string beans along with the Parmesan rinds to the pot. I add chicken stock to cover--about 6 cups--and bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer it for about 20-30 minutes. After the vegetables have cooked, I add the chickpeas, and then the basil and tomato paste or chopped tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes. This recipe will serve 4, and you will have leftovers. Unless your family goes back for seconds right away, something that happens a lot in my home.