‘It was a cold and windy night’ is the way the story usually starts but actually it was a cold and windy and busy night and I learned you can make really great soup without a recipe. I love to try new recipes. I do it for fun…when I have time. But I need to eat more often than that. I had saved several Minestrone soup recipes onto my “Gonna make that someday” Pinterest page but no time to go there. So…I just started to combine what I had, throwing into the pot as I sliced and diced, opened a few cans, and discovered treasures in the back of the produce drawers. And…if I do say so myself it was Deeeeeeelicious! I thought about trying to capture the recipe after the fact but decided to try to capture the concept instead. I have tried it on several other occasions, varying the mix, and loved the simple and GOOD results every time!
So here you have – (insert drumroll) -my UNRECIPE for ‘Minutes’strone Soup. No running to the store allowed; use what you have. The below formula made a small batch (2 dinner servings and 2 generous lunch servings). Increase amounts to fit your crowd.
1. Start with some zing. I usually use some onion and garlic, about 1-2 cloves garlic and 1/2 onion, chopped. Place in a medium dice pot over medium high heat. Let them start to make your house smell like dinner is coming…
2. Add something red or orange, about 1/2 cup of something like tomato paste or sauce, canned tomatoes or pumpkin, or those grape tomatoes that are starting to wrinkle a bit, it even some salsa. Add a little more or less as taste or supply dictates.
3. Turn it into soup by adding 3-4 cups of veggie broth (4 cups for soupier soups, 3 cups for stew’ier soups.)
4. Make it ‘stick to your ribs’ by throwing in some potato, sweet potato, cooked grains (like rice, quinoa, barley, etc.). I use about 1-2 potatoes or sweet potatoes or combo or 1 c cooked grains.
5. Clean out the veggie crisper. Slice, dice, chop, and toss in some zucchini, carrots, celery, cabbage, or whatever treasures you have. I really don’t measure but aim for about the same total volume as the ‘stick to your ribs’ ingredients
6. To prevent after dinner munchies (and to add protein and fiber and more) throw in a can of beans or about 2 cups leftover cooked beans. I usually drain and rinse canned beans to remove 50% of the added sodium, but have just thrown in an underdrained can at times too.)
7. Add then to make it more ‘Olive Garden’ like, add a handful of small pasta, like little shells or bow ties or even broken whole wheat spaghetti. Up to this point just add ingredients in the order listed and let things cook as you work. Once you add the pasta, you will want to set timer for the shortest time listed on the package.
8. For a last minute touch, toss in about two hands full of baby spinach or kale and possibly a few fresh herbs when there is 2 minutes left on the timer.
And when that timer goes off….tada ….. ‘Minutes’trone is ready. Serve with a fresh salad and some crusty whole grain bread. Enjoy!