Experiments in soup-making: fake minestrone soup

A bowl of soup, showing sausage meatballs, vegetables and spiral pasta.I’m feeling a little lazy but I really want to share my latest creation. Normally, I would describe what I threw together in the pot to get to the final product and not post the actual recipes but I think this is going to change. For my friends on Facebook and Google+ who have already seen this recipe, I do apologize for the reposting/blatant plagiarizing of my own FB/G+ post. Hehe. I just think this soup is too good (if I do say so myself) to not post here. Not only that, but I think that based on next-day tasting, I’m going to make a couple of measurement adjustments as well.

It rained last night and had cooled off considerably outside (YAY!!). As such, I suddenly got in the mood for soup. I don’t know why, but rain and soup and things like hot chocolate go well together, imo. So, I started yanking things out of the fridge and cupboards to see what I could come up with.

This was another case where I didn’t have this and I didn’t have that, but I thought I’d toss it all together and see what I got. This is one of those successful experiments that I am sharing, with the idea that you substitute what you have or what you like in, take out what you don’t have or don’t like and make it all your own! It reminded me of minestrone soup as I was making it, hence the name…

FAKE MINESTRONE SOUP

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 to 1/2 lb bacon, sliced up into small pieces – I use low-sodium bacon, but turkey or chicken bacon could also be used
  • 1 package mild (or hot if you prefer) Italian sausage, removed from casings and formed into small meatballs
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, cut up
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 2 Tbsp chili paste (OPTIONAL)
  • 1 tsp garlic & red pepper flakes (OPTIONAL)
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 medium yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup wine (your choice), brandy or sherry (OPTIONAL)
  • 1 small can tomato paste OR 1/3 cup Diana sauce (or sweet bbq sauce)
  • 4-5 cups beef broth – I use low sodium
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1-2 cups (frozen or fresh) vegetables of your choosing (I put in 1.5 cups frozen peas & 1/2 cup of frozen green beans) – how much depends on how packed you like your soup
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 box whole wheat pasta of your choosing (I used spiral pasta; I prefer the whole wheat pasta because it can hold up to sitting in a soup without absorbing //too// much liquid)
  • salt to taste
  1. In a large soup pot, bring 1/2 cup of water to a simmer over low-medium heat. Add bacon. Stir occasionally, keeping an eye on it.
  2. Once the bacon just begins to start to brown on the outer edges, add the sausage meatballs. Cook until cooked through/beginning to brown, adding water (just a little bit at a time) occasionally to keep the bacon and sausage from burning.
  3. Once the sausage has begun to brown, drain almost all the liquid (but leave enough to continue cooking with), then add the onion and celery. Cook until the onions become soft.
  4. Add the garlic, ground black pepper, oregano, basil, chili paste, pepper flakes, paprika and yellow pepper. Give all of this a good stir and then add the alcohol (optional) and tomato paste/Diana sauce, then raise the heat to medium-high.
  5. Now add the beef broth and diced tomatoes. Give this a stir to mix, then add the sugar to help cut through the acidity of the tomatoes. Toss in the veggies and bay leaves, and pasta, stir and bring the soup to a rolling boil.
  6. Lower the heat, cover with a lid and then simmer for 10-15 minutes or until pasta is desired softness.
  7. Give it a taste and adjust salt to your own preference, adding a little at a time till it’s just right.

There may still be some oil/grease in the soup due to the meats, so you may wish to cool it, store it in the fridge overnight, then skim the fat off the before reheating and serving.

Alternately, you could cook the pasta separately, put some in each serving bowl, then pour the hot soup over the top of the pasta. I would also suggest treating rice the same way if you decide to add rice, otherwise you will end up with the giant lump o’ soup-flavoured rice in your pot.

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