Thursday, January 2, 2014

Minestrone alla Milanese {a recipe--with vegan variation}

We're expecting a high of 0 degrees Fahrenheit today.  It's cold outside, the kids are back in school, and I don't need to go anywhere, so I'm staying home and making soup.  Mmm, soup. 

This is one of our favorites--I love all the flavor, nutrients, and fiber the vegetables provide swimming in the distinctly Italian seasoned broth. If you want to make this soup, plan ahead--it takes about 3 hours, start to finish--don't worry, though, most of that is "simmer and stir occasionally" time.  Use a food processor to make quick work of chopping the veggies. 

Minestrone alla Milanese
Thanks to Aunt Sue & Uncle Dave for giving me this cookbook 20 years ago!  Still using it :)
1/3 c. olive oil
3 T. butter or margarine
2 medium onions, chopped
3 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1 large potato, cut into 3/4" cubes
3 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
1/4 lb green beans, trimmed, cut into 1" pieces (or use frozen)
2 medium zucchini, trimmed, cut into 1/2" cubes
(optional: 1/2 lb cabbage, shredded)
1 glove garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can Italian plum tomatoes, undrained
(I used a quart of my home canned diced tomatoes)
4 c. beef broth (to make it vegan, use vegetable broth)
1 c. water
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. dry basil
1/4 t. dry rosemary leaves
1/4 t. ground pepper
1 bay leaf
1 can (16 oz) cannellini beans (or white kidney beans)
Hint: when you're chopping veggies, put the onions in one bowl, carrots and potatoes in another, celery and green beans in a third, and zucchini in a fourth.  That way you can just dump in the appropriate bowl when it's time to add something.  I do the same with my spices--measure them out ahead of time and put them in a little bowl so I can just dump them in at the correct time.
  1. Heat oil and butter in 5-quart stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onions; cook and stir 6-8 minutes until onions are soft and golden, but not brown.  Stir in carrots and potato; cook and stir 5 minutes.  Stir in celery and green beans; cook and stir 5 minutes.  Stir in zucchini; cook and stir 3 minutes.  Stir in garlic (and optional cabbage); cook and stir 1 minute.
  2. Drain tomatoes, reserving juice.  Add broth, water, and tomato juice to pot.  Chop tomatoes coarsely; add to stockpot.  Stir in salt, basil, rosemary, pepper, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Rinse and drain cannellini beans; add beans to stockpot.  Uncover and cook over medium-low heat 30-40 minutes more until soup thickens, stirring occasionally.  Remove bay leaf.  Serve with mozzarella and/or parmesan cheese if desired.  Serves 8-10.

Serve this delicious soup with Money Saving Mom's 30 minute rolls for an easy and filling meal.

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