Minestrone soup

I hosted craft night last night and a friend who is having her 40th birthday this week said that her favorite dessert is cheesecake. So cheesecake topped my menu plan. Add some strawberry topping, check. Now what to make for dinner? I perused some magazines and books for ideas and came across some spring pasta with a warm goat cheese salad in the Cook’s Illustrated Menu cookbook. The pasta was a bit involved (it’s pasta??) and I wanted something that I didn’t have to mess with when people were arriving. But the warm goat cheese salad….

It was little rounds of chive and goat cheese, rolled in crushed pecans. It was divine. Sorry, it was gone too fast for picture taking. I will make it again! Especially considering the massive amount of chives growing in my garden.

So that’s a lot of cheese on the menu so far! I decided to go with a healthy soup as the main meal. Something non-cream based to offset the richness of the goat cheese and cheesecake.

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Minestrone Soup

1 onion, diced small (about 3/4 cup)
3 carrots, diced small (about 1 cup)
3 celery stalks, diced small (about 3/4 cup)
2 zucchini, diced small (about 2 cups)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup red or white wine (optional)
3 tsp. Better than Bouillon (mixed with 1 quart of boiling water)
1-28 ounce can whole plum tomatoes with juice, tomatoes chopped
1 15-oz can of white beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tb chopped fresh basil
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1/2 cup Ditalini or elbow pasta
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven, add olive oil and onion, celery and carrots over med-high heat. Sauté until soft and beginning to brown. Add zucchini and sauté another few minutes. Add minced garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Deglaze pan with wine (I actually used hard cider because that is what I was drinking — our homemade that is on-tap).

2. Add the Better than Bouillon (mixed with water) and the chopped tomatoes with juice. Add beans, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil.

3. Reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30-45 minutes.

4. In the last ten minutes, add the pasta.

5. Serve with crusty bread, goat cheese salad, etc.

And since it was Craft Night, I even got a very old WIP done!

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