Friday Faves

IMG_3473{pumpkin snickerdoodles}

What are you up to this weekend? I have a long and ambitious list that includes a haircut, a trip to the pumpkin patch, and three dozen pumpkin sugar cookies that need decorating. [I have a new little cousin/nephew as of 2:00 this afternoon, just in time to get his name on his cookie! And one of B&B’s most loyal readers also welcomed a baby boy today – happy birthday Gavin and Cooper!] Some fun links and pics for your evening (I was supposed to post this 12 hours ago and somehow forgot ~ I’m blaming an early morning spin class that really threw off my routine):

IMG_3474{my new ‘godmotherglassybaby from my sweet godson}

photo-125{soup weather, finally}

IMG_3475{my new favorite sunscreen, thanks to my friend (and supergoop guru!) Steph}

IMG_3497{topping bar at Portage Bay Cafe, yum}

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Yoona’s Chicken Noodle Soup

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I’ve made this soup dozens of times since it first came to my attention almost four years ago, so I apologize for not sharing it until now. I actually thought I had posted it last fall, but when I did a quick blog search the other day after someone asked me for the recipe, I found it buried in my drafts folder.  My friend Yoona calls it “Chicken Soup for Lazy People,” implying perhaps that a truly homemade chicken noodle soup would involve roasting your own chicken and making the stock from scratch.  Yoona has higher standards than I have, though – my definition of chicken soup for lazy people is the soup I get from the pre-made soup counter at Metropolitan Market, or something like this or this. [I used to think I didn’t like chicken noodle soup, mainly because I had only ever had canned versions, which I kind of hate.  The Met Market Chicken Noodle changed the way I felt about chicken noodle soup – I would get it even when I wasn’t sick, that’s how good it is – but an 8 ounce cup has about a year’s worth of sodium in it, so now that I have this recipe I like to make it myself.]

I would argue that there’s nothing lazy about this soup – it’s a little less involved, perhaps, but I still consider it “from scratch.”  Using a rotisserie chicken and store bought stock just means you can actually make “homemade” chicken noodle soup in under an hour – which is perfect if you or someone you love/need to feed is under the weather, or if you want to make it for dinner but you work until five and want to eat at a reasonable hour. My sister made a batch last weekend while my nephew was napping – and I should add that my sister, as a rule, doesn’t cook. Neither does my mom, but she makes this soup all the time.  So while I don’t think anything involving chopping veggies, simmering stock, shredding chicken, and adding fresh herbs can be considered lazy, we could perhaps call it a user-friendly chicken soup. Chicken soup you might actually make. Chicken soup you could make tonight.

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I chopped my onions/carrots/celery so that I could have pretty photos for blog purposes, but – true confession – I often use the pre-chopped mirepoix mix from Trader Joe’s. It’s just so quick and easy, and I don’t think you sacrifice a lot in terms of taste or texture. I actually don’t mind chopping the carrots and celery myself – you can do the ratios and dice-size just the way you like them that way, and it only takes a couple extra minutes – but normally I would definitely use the Trader Joe’s pre-chopped onions (yes, I’m lazy enough that I will make an extra stop just to avoid chopping my own onions. Although anything you don’t already have in your fridge/pantry, save for the chicken, you can get at Trader Joe’s). As Yoona will tell you (I encourage you to read her post, she’s a better cook and a better writer than me), it’s a totally flexible recipe and you can tweak it to your liking. I typically use low sodium stock and then add more salt and pepper to taste (I read somewhere that you’re always better off to use low sodium stock – no matter how much more salt you add it will still end up being much less than full-sodium stock. And one of the things I love about the Met Market chicken soup is how peppery it is, so I add a lot of freshly ground black pepper). And finally, if you’re the kind of person who would even consider making your own stock, you can use the carcass of the rotisserie chicken to do so – and then use that stock for the next time you want to make this soup.  See, not lazy at all!
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One Year Ago: Butternut Squash and Farro Salad
Two Years Ago: Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Soup, Previously: White Bean and Kale, Split Pea, Cream of Fresh Tomato, Pumpkin Black Bean, Curried Butternut Squash, Roasted Cauliflower, Minestrone, Roasted Sweet Potato and AppleRed Lentil, Roasted Tomato Basil

Chicken Noodle Soup, from Yoonanimous

Ingredients:

2 T olive oil
1 precooked rotisserie chicken, shredded (skin and bones removed)
3 medium carrots, diced
1 large or 2 small onions, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
8 cups chicken stock or broth (2 boxes)
1-2 cups pasta
1 cup chopped fresh dill, Italian parsley, or combination
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Oyster crackers or saltine crackers for topping, optional

Directions:

Coat the bottom of your stock pot with olive oil. Sauté carrots, onion, and celery over medium-high heat until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add stock or broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add pasta and chicken and cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until noodles are al dente. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove soup from heat and stir in fresh herbs.

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Green Chili Posole

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Last February I was lucky enough to spend a few days at the most amazing resort in Arizona with my mom, sister, and sister-in-law. We stayed in a five star villa, practiced yoga every morning in a studio overlooking the desert and the mountains, took amazing classes, got massages each afternoon – and yet somehow one of the best parts of the trip was the food. Everything was fresh and healthy and seasonal and beautifully prepared, and pretty much made me wish that I was Oprah so that I could go home and immediately hire the chef to come work for me (or maybe just move to Miraval permanently). Breakfast and lunch were served buffet style, and we ordered off of a menu at dinner.  This is one of those times where I wish I kept a diary so that I could better remember all of the meals we had, because they were all pretty incredible (I took a lot of pictures, but they’re all on my old phone). There were usually four entrée items on the dinner menu every night, as well as four (teeny tiny) desserts, and our foursome had so much fun ordering one of each and trying everything – and it was all so good we could never pick a favorite. I ordered both cookbooks as soon as I got back, and have made quite a few things from them since (including a delicious arugula salad, raspberry lemon cookies, and chocolate peanut butter meringues). However, everyone’s* hands down favorite meal was the green chili posole we had one day at lunch.

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There’s an asterisk after “everyone” because I never actually ate the posole – it was made with pork, and I don’t eat pork so didn’t even try a bite. But my mom, sister, and sister-in-law all went back for seconds and then thirds – which is kind of funny since Miraval is big on small portions and “mindful eating.”  They made an exception for the posole, though, and have talked about it ever since (and in their defense, the bowls they give you in the buffet line are really small).  The posole recipe is in one of my cookbooks, so I’ve been meaning to make it for some time. I finally got motivated the other weekend, and I made a double batch – one pork (which I promptly delivered to my sister’s house as a thinly veiled excuse to see my baby nephew), and one chicken so that I could try some too.

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Posole is a Latin American soup or stew made with hominy, chili peppers, onion, and garlic. It’s traditionally made using pork, although – fun/terrifying fact – per Wikipedia, the Aztecs used to use meat from humans killed in ritual sacrifice.  Once cannibalism was banned, however, they switched to pork. How lovely. I’m sure anyone who tried both of my versions would tell you the pork was their favorite, but since I don’t know any better I thought the chicken was delicious. I used fresh tomatillos, but they can be hard to find (especially now that the farmers market season is mostly over) so you could use canned tomatillos as well.  If using fresh, you need to husk them and then rinse them really well as the husks leave a sticky residue. The poblano peppers gave the soup a bit of a kick, but if you can’t find poblanos I think green bell peppers would work fine too. I’ve only ever seen hominy canned (although to be fair, I’ve never looked for hominy until I made this), but I’ve heard you can find it dried in Mexican specialty stores. If you’re just going to a regular market, you can find both canned hominy and canned tomatillos in the Mexican food section (or “international foods” aisle), although it can be hard to find so you may have to really search for it.

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Aside from hunting down a few ingredients, posole is pretty easy to make. Sauté your onions, celery, garlic, and peppers in olive oil (note: it seems like this recipe calls for a lot of garlic, which made me nervous, but it somehow turns out not too garlicky at all), dump everything else in, and simmer for 40 minutes. While the soup simmers, prepare your toppings – all of my google research said the toppings are the most important part of posole. This recipe called for red cabbage, cilantro, cojita cheese, and lime zest and wedges, but I also saw recipes that suggested avocado, radishes, oregano, grated cheddar – basically anything you can think of that sounds good. I think fresh cilantro adds so much to soups, and I also loved the lime zest and juice. A couple recipes I came across also suggested serving the posole with flour tortillas or tortilla chips.  Just make sure to eat your tortilla chips mindfully.

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One year ago: curried butternut squash soup

Green Chile Posole, from the Miraval Mindful Eating cookbook

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup garlic, minced
1 cup poblano pepper, diced
1 lb. lean boneless pork loin, cut into 3/4″ cubes (can also use chicken breast)
1 1/2 cup fresh tomatillos, chopped
1 cup canned hominy, rinsed well and drained
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
4 teaspoons chili powder
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
Red cabbage, thinly sliced, for garnish
Cotija cheese, crumbled, for garnish
Lime wedges and freshly grated lime zest, for garnish

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Lower the heat to medium-high, add the onions, and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add the celery, stir, and cook for 45 seconds. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 45 seconds. Add the poblano pepper and cook one minute longer.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and stir well. Add the pork (or chicken) and cook, stirring to sear on all sides, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatillo, hominy, two tablespoons of the cilantro, the chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper; stir well and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock, stirring to scrap any bits from the bottom of the pan. Increase the heat and bring soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until meat is tender and cooked through, 40 minutes.

Remove posole from the heat and stir in the remaining two tablespoons cilantro. Garnish with more cilantro, the cabbage, cheese, and lime zest; serve with a lime wedge.

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Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

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Well, we’ve been into fall for three whole days now – can you believe my restraint in not posting 100 pumpkin recipes already? We’re still in that in-between stage, weather wise, but even though it’s not quite soup season, it’s still tomato season and I have a lot of tomatoes to use up.  We’re now twenty months into this blog and this is my tenth soup recipe – far and away my biggest “category.” But really, can you think of a better one-pot meal to get you through the cold and rainy months looming on the horizon?  My barista told me this morning he’s been waiting for the rain for the past five months – by February I’ll deny saying this, but I’m kind of with him, and this soup is one of the main reasons why.

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I thought I had found my favorite tomato soup many years ago – it’s easy, it’s (relatively) healthy, it lets me use up all of the tomatoes I have coming out my ears in August, and it’s from the Barefoot Contessa so you know it’s delicious.  But after making it a couple dozen times over the past month or so, I thought I would mix things up and look for a couple new recipes. And what do you suppose I found? Another Barefoot Contessa option.  It’s not radically different from the first one, but she roasts the tomatoes before adding them to the soup and it really deepens the tomato flavor.  And it calls for white onions rather than red, which means you can use the bags of pre-chopped onions from Trader Joe’s (I’ll do almost anything to avoid chopping onions). Ina never disappoints.

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Roasting is a great way to use up any tomatoes you may have leftover from your summer harvest – simply roast them with oiive oil, salt and pepper, freeze them (with their juices), and then use them for soup all winter long.  And once you run out of frozen tomatoes, roasting the not-so-delicious varieties that they sell at the supermarket in January will make them taste (almost) as good as your home grown ones. I think the basil also makes this soup extra yummy – it calls for sixteen times the amount of basil that the other soup does (sixteen times!! I did this math a couple times just to make sure that’s correct). I initially thought maybe the “four cups” was a typo – but it’s not and it’s amazing. You don’t even have to chop it, just pull the leaves from the stems and dump them in. Don’t skimp on the basil if you can help it (I did a full four cups the first time I made this and it was delicious, and then I was a little short the second time and while of course it was still yummy, I wished I had made the effort to go back to the store and get another bag).

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Add a can of tomatoes (San Marzano is ideal), a box of chicken stock (veggie stock or water to make it vegetarian), the basil and thyme, and then dump in the roasted tomatoes – including all the oil and juices that accumulated in the pan. Simmer for 40 minutes or so and then blend – you don’t even have to add cream (put the calories you save towards your grilled cheese). Ina tells you to use a food mill, but I don’t have one so I use my immersion blender. I suspect a Vitamix would work great as well, or a regular blender or food processor. This soup will freeze nicely – so I would suggest making a double batch, some for now and some for later. You’ll thank me the next time it’s nasty outside and you’re craving a grilled cheese and tomato soup (per the forecast, next week). Happy soup season!

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One year ago: pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin granola 

Soup, previously: white bean and kale, split pea, cream of fresh tomato, pumpkin black bean, curried butternut squash, cauliflower leek, minestrone, roasted sweet potato and apple, red lentil

Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup, from The Barefoot Contessa

Yield: 6-8 servings

3 lbs ripe tomatoes (Ina suggests plum), sliced in half
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons gold olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups yellow onions, chopped (1 large/2 small)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, with juices
4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 quart chicken stock or water

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the tomatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread mixture in one layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.

In a large dutch oven or soup pot, heat butter and two tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade or purée with an immersion blender (or in vitamix) until smooth.

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Pasta & Co. Red Lentil Soup

IMG_6030Spring is allegedly only two and a half weeks away, but you’d never know it if you looked out the window. I had the good fortune to escape to the desert last week (more on that on Friday), but returned home to gray skies, nonstop drizzle, and temperatures in the thirties (I know my Midwest/East Coast friends have it way worse, but even the high thirties is still freezing for this girl at this point). This was the second year in a row that I’ve spent the end of February in Arizona, and it makes me wonder why I don’t spend the entire month there. Potentially March as well – but I digress. The silver lining of this weather is that nothing sounds better than making soup, except possibly curling up on the couch to watch the Oscars with said bowl of soup – and maybe some popcorn.IMG_6022

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IMG_6024So often when I go to post one of my favorite recipes, I wonder how I haven’t shared it with you already, and that is especially true in this case. I could eat lentil soup for every meal – I have a hard time not ordering it when I see it on a menu, or making it immediately when I come across a new recipe. As such, I think I can fairly say I’ve tried quite a few different variations, and nothing comes close to this one – especially for the time and effort it takes to throw it together.IMG_6025

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IMG_6027Simply toast the cumin seeds along with the other spices, then sauté your onions and garlic (I of course use the pre-chopped Trader Joe’s bag of onions), dump in the lentils, water, and tomatoes, and simmer. Note that using water in lieu of chicken stock means (a) it’s vegetarian, (b) it’s so much lower in sodium, and (c) you have one less thing to buy at the store. The recipe tells you to make a “bouquet garni” (I love that term) with the cilantro, but I usually just throw a few stems in and then dig them out after half an hour. Another fun note is that the Trader Joe’s bag of red lentils is exactly two cups – nothing makes me happier than not having to measure AND not having to add a half-used or almost-empty bag of something random to the pantry, never to be used again. Although in this case, you’ll want to make this soup again so you would use them, but still – you know what I mean.IMG_6028

IMG_6035Stir in a little lemon juice and cilantro at the end, and that’s it. So easy and SO good. I like to serve it garnished with more cilantro, a lemon wedge, and perhaps a dollop of greek yogurt, but it really doesn’t need anything. The soup will keep well in the fridge or freezer, so it’s great to package up for lunches for the week – your coworkers will be so jealous, and you won’t have to brave the weather to go grab lunch.

One year ago: coconut granola, lemony banana bread 

Pasta & Co., previously: black bean and couscous salad

Soup, previously: white bean and kale, split pea, tomato, pumpkin black bean, curried butternut squash, cauliflower leek, minestrone, and roasted sweet potato and apple 

Red Lentil Soup, from Pasta & Co. By Request 

Serves 6-8

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or put through a garlic press
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 quarts water
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
1 cup crushed tomatoes in purée (the recipe recommends Paradiso brand; I use whatever I have on hand)
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
7 sprigs cilantro, washed and tied together
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons cilantro (or more to taste), washed, dried, and finely chopped
Sour cream, yogurt, or quark to top (optional)

In a large saucepan, combine oil, cumin seeds, coriander, and turmeric.  Over low heat, cook mixture until seeds darken.  Remove from heat and add onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Sauté over medium heat until onions are translucent.  Add water, lentils, tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and cilantro sprigs.  Bring to a boil and simmer 20-30 minutes, until lentils are very soft.  Remove soup from heat, take out cilantro sprigs, and stir soup for a few minutes to break up any remaining pieces of lentil (do not purée this soup).  Stir in lemon juice and chopped cilantro.  Taste for seasoning (may need additional salt) and texture (may need to be thinned with a small amount of water). Garnish with sour cream, yogurt, or quark, if desired.  Soup will keep well for days in the refrigerator, and freezes nicely.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Apple Soup

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So I realize “sweet potato and apple” seems a little fall-ish, at least to me, but this post has been in my draft folder since October, and I figured I might as well post it during a January “Soup Week” rather than leave it there until next fall (mainly, because I will have forgotten about it by then).  And altruistically, I thought some of you might want it sooner – there’s a good possibility that you have all of the ingredients for this soup in your house already, and could make it for dinner tonight.  In less than an hour, with zero trips to the grocery store.

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This recipe is courtesy of my dear friend Ellie, who is mom to one of my all-time favorite kids (Liam, age 4.5). Last fall Ellie subscribed to some sort of family-friendly recipe sharing service, where they would give you weekly meals that were healthy, kid-friendly, budget-friendly, quick, etc. I can’t really remember the details, I just remember I happened to be there for dinner the night that she made this and I got really exited about it – so excited, in fact, that I went home and made it for myself, and brought it to work for lunch for weeks thereafter. Turns out it’s not just moms that need quick and healthy meal ideas, it’s all of us.

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By “quick and easy,” I’m talking really quick and really easy. Simply peel and roughly chop two sweet potatoes, one apple, and one onion. Toss them with a couple garlic cloves, a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them all together for about 30 minutes at 450 degrees F (stirring every 10 minutes or so).

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Something strange is happening with the lighting (instagram filters) in these photos, but they’re a before and after.  Once the veggies and apple are done roasting, simply dump them into a pot, cover with chicken or vegetable stock, and purée.   Garnish with a little greek yogurt and perhaps some chives and you have yourself a quick, healthy, and delicious bowl of soup. Bon Apétit!

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Roasted Sweet Potato and Apple Soup

Total Time: 50 minutes (20 minutes prep/30 minutes roasting)

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium-sized chunks
1 firm apple, such as Gala or Jonagold, peeled, cored, and quartered
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste (I used more)
1/8 teaspoon pepper, or to taste (I used more)
3-4 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
Yogurt, chives, croutons, and/or roasted pumpkin seeds (my personal fave), for garnish

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.  Put the sweet potatoes, apple, onion, and garlic in a roasting pan.  Toss them with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast, tossing every ten minutes or so, until they’re soft, about 30 minutes.  Transfer roasted veggies to a soup pot and add just enough broth to cover them (if you’re going to purée the soup in a blender, you can just add the veggies and broth to the blender).  Purée (using immersion blender or a regular blender or food processor) until smooth, adding more broth if necessary.  Warm the soup over low heat, or refrigerate for up to one day, or freeze for up to 3 months.  Stir in yogurt or sour cream just before serving for a creamier taste, if desired.

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Grandma’s Minestrone Soup

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My grandma is a pretty cool lady – she turned 94 this past October, and she’s still going strong. She’s been married for 68 years, raised seven children, and doted on 26 grandchildren and five great grandchildren (so far), with a few more on the way. She’s a three-time cancer survivor and has gone through three hip replacements, and even though she now uses a walker to get around and struggles with arthritis in her hands, she still loves spending time in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, she’d rather spend her morning shopping and then having lunch at the Nordstrom cafe (she and I have that in common), but even at 94 she still loves to cook for her family.

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Grandma is famous for her soups, though most of them don’t have recipes. Fortunately, she clipped this one out of The Oregonian (our local paper) many years ago, and we’ve all been gobbling it up ever since. It’s a pretty traditional minestrone soup, although you could definitely add/omit any vegetables and beans to your liking. It’s a great January soup because it’s so healthy  – especially if you didn’t add cheese and pesto at the end like my sister and I like to do. You could even omit the pasta if you wanted to, although it’s a pretty small amount so I usually leave it in.

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This soup comes together pretty quickly – you could even use the pre-chopped mirepoix that you can find at Trader Joe’s or high end grocery stores, although I kind of like the thick carrot coins that you can get by slicing them yourself. Of course I always use pre-chopped onions (Trader Joe’s was sold out when I went this time, so I used the onion-shallot-garlic mix, which worked just fine). If you don’t mind chopping onions, lucky you. If you do go with the pre-chopped option, however, all you have to do is slice the carrots, celery, parsley, and cabbage. Everything else just gets dumped right from the can into the soup pot.

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The recipe tells you to start with the broth and just dump all the veggies in. I like to start by sautéing the onions in a little olive oil, then adding the broth once the onions have softened up (5-10 minutes) and following the recipe from there.  I should probably note here that if you don’t have a really large soup pot or dutch oven, you might want to cut this recipe in half.  My dutch oven is a 5 1/2 quart (I think), and I could only add three of the four boxes of chicken stock before I started to worry that the pot would overflow once I added in everything else.  I have no idea what I used to make this soup in, but I’m now in the market for the 7 quart Le Cruset.

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Barely room for the beans and pasta, literally (add the pasta as close to the end as possible so the noodles don’t get too mushy). I ended up ladling about half of the soup into another soup pot and then adding my last box of chicken stock that way (2 cups in each pot). I’m now really thinking hard about what color 7 quart pot I want to get, though, because that just seems like an unnecessary step (read: any excuse to get a new Le Cruset!). This sounds like a shopping excursion for me and Grandma!

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Minestrone Soup, from The Oregonian, a really long time ago

4 quarts unsalted beef, chicken, or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons salt (less if you’re using store-bought broth – I used 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
3 large carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
5 stalks celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
2 cups chopped onions
1 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes (you can use a 14 1/2 ounce can if you like a less tomato-y soup, but I love it with the bigger can)
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 15 1/2 ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 1/2 ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup uncooked macaroni noodles
Parmesan cheese and/or pesto for garnish (optional)

Bring stock to a rolling boil in a large stockpot.  Add the salt (if using store-bought broth, reduce the amount of salt to 1-2 teaspoons to start with), pepper, oregano, parsley, carrots, celery, cabbage, onions, and spinach. [Variation: I sauté my onions in a small amount of olive oil to begin. Once the onions have softened, add stock, bring to a boil, and add veggies and seasonings as instructed above.] Return to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender, about 30 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and pasta and  simmer until the macaroni is tender, about 10 minutes more. Turn off heat and let stand for one hour before serving. Garnish with parmesan and a dollop of pesto if desired.

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