The weather in suburban New Jersey today is ideal for the lazy vacation day I’m taking. It’s one of my favorite kinds of days: a grey and drizzly day in December during which I feel perfectly content to order Christmas presents from bed while snuggling with one of my loving pets. What it is, is the perfect afternoon for a bowl of soup. But all of my soup is in Brooklyn, frozen and waiting for me to have the forethought to thaw it before I want it. Where did I learn how to do that? Well, from my mother, who also has several soup varieties sitting downstairs in her freezer, perfectly frozen and hard as a rock.
It would seem I’m out of luck until tomorrow.
But in the meantime, here’s some minestrone I made a few weeks ago while home with a cold. Though minestrone may be a bit of a hearty remedy for a cold, I was stuck on making something filling yet healthy for the cold months ahead. Ya know, something I could pull out at moment’s notice…or a day’s notice. Whatever.
An avid soup eater, my mother has already pulled out one she recently whipped up to defrost for tomorrow. She offered minestrone, but I’ll have that when I’m back in my apartment. Tomorrow we’re opting for bean, barley, and merguez sausage soup. Let’s just hope the weather matches the menu, because otherwise it will still be really delicious suck.
Adapted from Ina Garten
Serves: 6-8 people
4-6 ounces of bacon (the thicker the better)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, ½-inch-diced
3 stalks of celery, ½-inch-diced
10 ounces frozen peas
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 26-ounce can diced tomatoes
6-8 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked small pasta
½ bunch of kale, any kind, cut into strips
½ small head savoy cabbage, cut into strips
½ cup(ish) basil pesto, plus more to serve
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
- Heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pot, such as a Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium-low heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
- Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and thyme and cook over medium heats, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes when the vegetables begin to soften.
- Add the tomatoes, 6 cups of the chicken stock, peas, the bay leaf, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 ½ teaspoons of pepper. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered. The vegetables should be tender then. You can even wait until the last few minutes to add the peas.
- Discard the bay leaf, add the beans, pasta, kale, and cabbage and heat through. Add the other two cups of stock if it’s too thick for your taste.
- Scoop in two big spoons of pesto and stir through. Divide the soup into bowls, top with a little more pesto and some freshly grated Parmesan. Put the rest in the freezer and kick yourself when you want it all of a sudden and it’s unavailable at that exact moment.