Are you like me? Is the first question you ask when you sit down at a restaurant, "What’s your soup of the day?" That’s always my first question, especially when it’s cold outside. I’m a soup lover, a lover of soup. A super soupy lover.
Sunday was our first rain of the season. After my mad dash in my pajamas to drag the outdoor cushions into the garage, I smelled that smell. You know the one: First Rain. That first rain of the season that makes the earth smell so good you wish someone bottled it. There’s got to be a candle somewhere called "First Rain", anyone know where I can get it? In my world, rain goes hand in hand with hearty soup.
There’s this Italian restaurant in my town that makes the best minestrone soup I’ve ever had. When I was a working girl, and felt myself coming down with a sore throat, I would phone in an order of a large minestrone and pick it up on my way home from work. It always brought me back to life and saved me from the impending ailment. In fact, my husband and I joke that this restaurant’s minestrone is so good, it can cure anything. So I set my sights on capturing the same flavor at home, and this quick and easy version certainly tastes just like it.
Personally, what I love about this minestrone is there is no pasta in the recipe. Even with my Italian grandmother’s blood pulsing through my veins, I’ve finally come to terms with the absolute fact that I’d rather skip those mini shell pastas in my minestrone. And I must have rich tomato flavor. And white beans. And hearty fresh squash. And fresh shaved parmesan. And crusty bread. Nuff said.
#1: Tasty Thirty Minute Minestrone
3 tbsp olive oil
2 medium zucchini (Italian squash), diced
3 medium yellow squash, diced
1/2 tsp crushed garlic (optional)
2 cups frozen corn
1 can tomato sauce (15 oz.)
5 cups lower sodium chicken broth
1 tsp finely chopped or dried basil
1 tsp thyme
1 can white northern beans (15 oz.)
1/2 tsp garlic salt or celery salt
Directions: Start by dicing up your squash, then pour the olive oil into a large pot. If you like a hint of garlic flavor, add 1/2 tsp crushed garlic to mixture. Simmer or ‘sweat’ your squash on medium low heat for 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and corn, bring misture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add basil, thyme, salt tomato sauce, and white beans, then cook on medium low heat for another 15 minutes. Serves 6. Serve it hot!
By the way, you are forbidden from eating this minestrone unless you have fresh crusty bread and parmesan shavings. I’m sorry, but those are the rules.
Because there’s just no point unless you can do this.
I used to think that only sinful foods were satisfying, but I was wrong. Heart healthy foods can be just as divine!
#2: Cauliflower Soup
Last week, I made PW’s Cauliflower Soup, and it was a heavenly experience. But first, I must share my past relationship with this sulfurous vegetable. A long time ago, I never ever considered myself a cauliflower fan. I can’t be alone. My best evidence is that it’s always the raw cauliflower that is left for last on all those vege trays at parties. Cauliflower is the party wallflower, ain’t no denying it.
But then about five years ago I was dining with a group of friends and we were talking about eating healthy and this gal swore by steamed cauliflower mashed up with butter and salt. I tried it and it was like, dare I say, nearly akin to the sublime potato (which can do no wrong in my book). At that moment, I became a cauliflower convert, and I’ve been eating cooked cauliflower ever since, but with at least a pat of butter to mask that bitter flavor. I still look at all cauliflower recipes with extreme skepticism. If I don’t see butter, it shall not be cooked in my kitchen. But this Cauliflower Soup recipe had plenty o’ butter, so I made it. And it was really really good.
I did tweak it slightly at the end by blending it with my hand held mixer to make it smoother, which I prefer, but I did leave a few florets for texture. Add a few salty croutons, and bam! I swear, it’s fall soup perfection.
Here’s three more of my favorite soups that I love to make this time of year:
#3: Chicken Tortilla Soup
#4: Potato and Corn Chowder
#5: French Onion Soup
Raise your hand if you think you’re making soup for dinner! Me? I’ve got just enough leftovers for a bowl of minestrone.
Got another excellent soup recipe? Well this soup lover really needs to know, so please, if you really care, leave your recipe or link in a comment!