If you haven’t already noticed, I have taken a very long break from blogging. Along with exercising, time conversing with my husband without interruption, and showering (don’t judge), blogging is what I deem to be an “extra-curricular activity” these days. All for good reason. I had a beautiful baby boy last May and in a nutshell, it has been one crazy ride. He is my second child and thankfully, my 4-year daughter just adores her new brother (when he isn’t trying to eat the hair from her Elsa doll of course).
I am a stay-at-home mom and while I wouldn’t have it any other way, I am not going to lie when I say there are times I wonder to myself, “What am I doing here?” while all hell is breaking loose around me. Yet I look at those two little munchkins each day and I am quickly reminded how lucky I am to have two happy and healthy kids who are growing like weeds right before my eyes. They need me and let’s face it, it is nice to be needed (even at ungodly hours of the night).
The good news is that I am still cooking in my kitchen just under much different circumstances. I am fairly certain that I could win one of those Top Chef competitions where the chefs are required to cook with one hand tied behind their back. Instead of having my hand tied behind my back, I would be challenged to cook a three course meal holding an 8-month old attached to my hip the whole time.
I have been on a soup kick lately given that everyone in my household has been sick since the New Year and let’s face it, all you really want to do when you are sick is slurp hot soup and sleep. Comforting and hearty, soups are a great way one-pot meal. My mother-in-law shared her recipe with me for minestrone soup Tuscan style which is a huge hit in our family. We have been eating it all winter long. I even made enough to jar some up and bring it on a recent trip to Tahoe with good friends. Both the adults and kids including the little dude devoured it.
This recipe is very versatile. You can use any mix of vegetables that you like. The original recipe calls for cabbage but I substituted kale because I felt like it. I also like to add small shaped pasta to the finished product to make it even heartier. And don’t forget to finish it with a sprinkle of parmesan and a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil for true Italian style minestrone!
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 2 yellow onions, diced
- 1 head of kale, leaves removed from the stems and chopped into 1" pieces
- 4 Russett potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
- 3 zucchini, diced
- 1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes with their juice
- 3 cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ lb small shaped pasta such as ditalini or farfalline
- Place potatoes in a medium sized pot filled with water. Boil until the potatoes are just tender when pierced with a fork. Drain in a colander and set aside.
- In a large stock pot, add enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the bottom and sauté the celery, carrots and onions over medium heat until soft about 8-10 minutes.
- Add enough water to fill about half of pot and then add the kale and zucchini.
- Using a food mill or potato masher, mash the cooked potatoes and transfer them to the pot.
- Repeat with half of the pinto beans and add the mashed and whole ones to the pot. At this point, you may need to add more water depending on how you like the consistency of your minestrone. The potatoes and beans will absorb quite a bit of the liquid.
- Lastly, add the chopped tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste.
- Simmer the minestrone over medium-low heat for 1 to 1-1/2 hours until the veggies are cooked well and the broth has thickened. If you are using pasta, be sure to cook it separately and add to the soup right before serving. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on top, and enjoy!