Saturday, January 8, 2011
This week's soup is a vegan minestrone, full of lovely vegetables, fragrant with Italian herbs, and hearty with Roman beans and whole grain pasta.
I started by soaking a pound of dried Roman beans. You could also use pink beans, cranberry beans, light red or dark red kidney beans or really just about any kind of reddish bean. After the beans were fully hydrated, I drained and rinsed them and then returned them to the pan, covered with fresh water. I cooked them over medium low heat until just barely done.
To add liquid to the soup I added a large can of whole peeled tomatoes, which I broke into pieces with my cooking paddle, a large can of diced tomatoes, and a small can of tomato sauce. I added a bit more water so I would have enough liquid to cook the rest of the ingredients and still have a broth. I added a chopped onion and 3 cloves of chopped garlic for flavor and turned up the heat to med high, so I'd have an easy rolling boil.
Next I chopped up my vegetables into bite-sized pieces and added them: 4 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, a big handful of red cabbage, 2 green bell peppers, and 2 green zucchini squash. I put them in the pot in this order because it takes the carrots longest to cook, followed by the celery and so on. Finally I threw in a half a bag of frozen chopped spinach that I had leftover from my dinner a couple of nights ago.
While the veggies were cooking I seasoned the broth by adding a couple Tbs of sofrito cooking base, some Sabbathday Lake Shaker Italian seasoning which includes garlic, basil, fennel seeds, oregano, parsley, & thyme, oregano, black pepper, Adobo seasoning, Bragg Liquid Aminos and a shot of the juice from a jar of pickled banana peppers. I'm not giving the quantities of these seasonings because I believe in tasting instead of measuring. If you aren't confident doing this, a big pot of soup is good to practice on. It's very forgiving and you aren't likely to overdo the seasoning if you have a large quantity of food to work on. Taste as you go! It will start out bland, and as you add each flavor, you'll learn what taste it brings to the mix. Get a little of everything in there, and then add a little more of this or that until it pleases you. Your tongue is the most important tool in your kitchen.
When the carrots were cooked, I threw in a box of whole grain rotini pasta and let it cook until it was just barely done. I'm taking this soup to meeting tomorrow so it will need to withstand overnight storage and reheating and I don't want the pasta to get mushy.
In the picture, I garnished my soup with a little pecarino romano cheese, so the photo isn't vegan. If you leave the cheese off, the soup is though.
P.S. I love it when people post comments. If you try these soups or if you have suggestions based on your own experiments, I'd love to hear!