Last month my husband and I went out to dinner for his birthday. It was a cold and rainy night, and even after sitting down in the warm and comfortable restaurant, I was freezing.
“Are you sure you want to keep your coat on?”, my husband asked. Not only did I want to keep my coat on, I yearned for a woolen scarf, mittens, and my electric blanket! My husband scooted closer to me, hoping his warmth would envelop me. We opened a menu and read together. “Mmmm,” sighed my husband, “the risotto sounds incredible.”
“I know what I’m having!”, I declared, as I searched impatiently for the waiter, “…the minestrone soup.”
My husband ordered a wonderful salad of arugula, Belgian endive and radicchio, and I feasted on the most outrageous soup I’d ever tasted. Maybe it was because I was so cold, I don’t know, but I oohed and aahed down to the last hot and soothing spoonful. It was full of perfectly ripe vegetables, flavored with an aromatic broth and topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. After finishing, I felt as warm, comfortable and satisfied as a cat sitting by the fire.
The next day I took out my favorite cookbooks and compared minestrone soup recipes. I took my favorite part of each, and then crafted my own recipe.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped coarsely
3 cloves garlic. minced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 zucchini, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups green beans, cut to 2″
1 box frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained
3 vegetable bouillon cubes
8 cups water
2 cups macaroni, uncooked salt and pepper to taste freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a large saucepan or stockpot, melt the butter with the oil. Saute’ onion and garlic for 5 minutes and add all the ingredients, except the macaroni. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours, adding more water, if needed. Stir occasionally. Ten minutes before the soup is ready, add the uncooked pasta and continue to cook until the pasta is done. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with Parmesan cheese.