Friday, January 18, 2013

Minestrone Soup in Winter - Minestrone D'Inverno in a crock pot

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Here's you a fun fact... There is no such thing as a recipe for Minestrone soup (even though I will have one in a second in this very post).

It's not a recipe as such, but a hodgepodge of ingredients, whatever you have on hand, in your garden or in the winter, in your root cellar.  In fact if you look up a definition of "Minestrone" in an Italian/English dictionary; the word means mix-up or jumble (and vegetable soup).  Italian cooking is all about what is fresh and available.  So a Summer minestrone is going to be a LOT different from a winter minestrone.

Generally this Italian vegetable soup has chopped vegetables cooked in a stock.  To add a more filling character, a minestrone will often have beans, pasta or rice (in this case, Arborio Rice is used to make a soupy Risotto).  This is truly a peasant dish, a hearty bowl of soup, made from easily found (and often free or garden) ingredients' designed to fill you up at little to no expense.

In modern US Supermarkets, just about any summer vegetable can be found year round.  Of course there will be varying degrees of freshness and tastes compared to the summer local produce.  But there is something wonderful about using the ingredients of the season... Like these mostly root vegetables.

This recipe builds on what I have been learning on my quest to discover Italian Cooking... That is 1 Cup of Soffritto, the gently sauteed mix of Onions, Carrots, celery and Parsley.  As with many of the soups that are made with Saffritto, tiny minced bits are used to flavor the stock, followed by larger chopped versions of the same ingredients for a stew like look and texture.  Makes my chicken stock even more flavorful as a vegetable/chicken stock.

 OK, for the Winter Minestrone, Here's what I did...

Soup in Winter
Minestrone D'Inverno in a crock pot

  • 1 Cup Soffritto (mix of gently sauteed onions, carrots, celery and parsley)
  • 4 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 2 Medium Carrots, chopped
  • 3 Stalks Celery Chopped
  • 1 Medium Red Onion, Chopped
  • 3 Medium Russet Potatoes, Chopped and thinly sliced
  • 6 Slices Pancetta, chopped (Thick sliced bacon is fine. For a change, best to have fatty pieces as the fat is used to saute ingredients and then flavor the soup)
  • 1 Medium Leek, washed and thin sliced
  • 1/4 Head Cabbage, chopped thin like making cole slaw
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Reggiano Cheese . grated (and save the rind to flavor the soup as well)
  • 1 Cup Arborio Rice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Cooking Directions
  1. OK, I make my Minestrone Soup in a Crock Pot. However this is not a set and forget recipe as there are many stages. Mine takes 8 hours at changing settings...
  2. First, set your crock pot to LOW
  3. Add the Stock and 1 cup of Soffritto
  4. Close the lid and allow to gently simmer for 4 hours. This will flavor the stock, flavorful stock makes for flavorful risotto, makes for flavorful Minestrone
  5. After 4 hours, change the slow cooker to HIGH
  6. Add the Potatoes, Carrots, Celery and Red Onion to the stock.
  7. Over medium high heat, in a Large Saute pan, cook the Pancetta until most of the fat has rendered.
  8. Add the Cabbage and leeks and sate in the bacon fat until fully wilted (and has absorbed all of the fat... fat is flavor)
  9. Add the Pancetta, cabbage and leeks mix to the crock pot, as well as the Parmesan Cheese rind if you have one available. Reserve the cheese for just before serving.
  10. Close the lid on the crock pot and continue to cook on HIGH for 4 hours. After that time, double check to make sure the potatoes have cooked through.
  11. Add the Arborio Rice, close the lid and continue to cook for 1 hour.
  12. Add the cheese, salt and pepper to taste (be careful as most stocks and the pancetta have plenty of salt, as well as a salty flavor to the Parmesan cheese... soup will benefit from several turns of a pepper grinder though.
  13. Serve HOT and ENJOY


So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Recipes for Soup, Chili or Chowder" (Now more than 52 and still growing)

Soup from Scratch is one of the great kitchen joys.  The house smells amazing and the soup warms to the bone.  From broth to chowder, vegetarian to loaded up chili... Even a great idea for a party (love the Potato Soup Bar idea).  Come take a look, sure to have something you might like to try.  All recipes have been tested and WORK!


So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Authentic Italian Recipes"!!!

Well over 52 recipes actually as I just can't stop. The world's most popular cuisine, authentic, natural, organic, Farm to Table... the Italians started, perfected or embraced it before it became a fad. This page is a guide to Italian Cooking... For the home cook!  So, Cin Cin (toast) and Buon Appetito (Enjoy your Meal) to you all and let's Cook authentic Italian!


So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of "52 Ways to Cook SLOW COOKER-CROCK POT Easy Recipes"!!!

From meat dishes (Like an AMAZING Root Beer Pulled Pork that will feed a small army), to kitchen staples (FREE Gallon of Chicken Stock anyone?) to a slew of Soup and Stew recipes, these are the dishes that will change the way you cook.  Start in the morning, set and forget and dinner is on the table... Easy Peasy indeed!!!


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