The Story of Soup

To me, the story of soup starts out with minestrone. Minestrone is like the backbone of all things soup. A little olive oil, as many vegetables as you can fit into a pot, drowning in rich, comforting stock. Science has nothing to do with soup, it's organic. It has everything to do with your taste buds. Start with the basics and follow your mouth to a satisfying bowl and the end of the day.

You can do almost anything with soup stock, it's like a strong foundation. When you have the right foundation, everything tastes good. — Martin Yan

This morning I crawled out of bed, enjoying the silence and got to work in the kitchen — creating a dish I knew creates an atmosphere of comfort. A large pot of chunky minestrone soup.

1 — 14.5 oz container of mirepoix*
1 c. dry white wine 
2 leeks, halved lengthwise and sliced, creating half-moons
3 bay leaves
9 c. water
9 bouillon cubes
6 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2" thick
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 — 15 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 — 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 c. frozen baby peas
1 c. shredded brussels sprouts
1/2 c. chopped flat leaf parsley

*I purchase my mirepoix at Trader Joes, but you definitely can substitute an equal amount of onion, celery ribs and carrots. I enjoy using mirepoix because it saves a lot of time chopping. Yea, call me lazy...

1. In a large stockpot, heat a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil. Add the mirepoix and cook over moderate heat until slightly translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the wine, leeks and bay leaves, cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 12 minutes. 

2. Remove bay leaves. Add zucchini, water, bouillon cubes, diced tomatoes (and the juices), garlic, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the beans, peas, shredded brussels sprouts, and parsley and simmer for about 3 minutes longer; season with salt and pepper.

3. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with a drizzle of evoo and a sprig of parsley.

Everyone makes a variation on minestrone. What is your special ingredient that "makes" your minestrone?

Soup is to the meal, what the hostesses smile of welcome is to the party. A prelude to the goodness to come. — Louis P. De Gouy


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