So while the rest of the nation is apple picking, and raking up fall leaves, here in San Diego we are experiencing record heat. Fortunately, for now, no fires are burning in our area.
I still have no idea what day it is, and I spend days trying to decide what I'm going to cook, and there are days when I don't cook and we simply order in or grab something from the freezer. Yesterday I felt like having a bowl of comfort, even though it was 90 degrees here at the coast. I've been using Insta-Cart to get most of our groceries, and Gelson's markets have had stellar produce, so I put in my order and 2 hours later I have the veg I needed to make some soup.
I kind of picture this soup being made by Tony Soprano, or one of the guys from Goodfellas, or the God Father movies when they are holed up somewhere for a while. This soup and a pot of sauce with meatballs.
During hot weather like this, my slow cooker is a God-send. I use it for soups, braises, and as a low and slow oven. At high, a slow cooker should be at 300 degrees, so you can slow bake foil-wrapped potatoes, or make lasagna.
In Italy, minestrone really is a vegetable soup, that may have a few leftover beef or pork bones thrown in for flavor, but they hardly ever use stock to enrich the broth, rather they will use Parmigiano rinds, fruity olive oil to begin the soup, and fresh veg to flavor the soup. I threw all that out the window yesterday, I started with sweet Italian sausage, added wine, and tomatoes, and both beef and chicken broth because I wanted a really hearty soup. So, here goes.
Serves 6 to 8
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, either bulk or removed from casings
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
3 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon dried sage (I've also used chopped rosemary in this)
1/2 cup dry red wine
One 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups beef broth
3 medium zucchini, diced
2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups chopped spinach (I've subbed kale, or Swiss chard in here if it's looking good)
One 14.5-ounce can either small white beans, or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped Parmigiano Reggiano rinds
1/2 pound small pasta, such as pennette, orzo or small shells, cooked al dente
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil for garnish
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano for garnish
In a Dutch oven, cook the sausage, until it is no longer pink, and break up any large pieces.
Add the onion, celery, carrots, and sage, and saute until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
Add the wine and tomatoes, and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes to concentrate the flavor.
Add the broths, zucchini, beans, spinach, beans, and rinds. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 3 hours.
Add the pasta, season with salt and pepper. Serve drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkle with cheese if desired.
The soup keeps refrigerated for up to 4 days or freezes beautifully for up to 4 months. Slow-Cooker Savvy:
Saute the sausage and mirepoix. Add the tomatoes and wine, then transfer to your slow cooker insert, add the broths, veg, and rinds, cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours.
A few notes on this soup:
- If you want to make it vegetarian, leave out the sausage, and use vegetable broth
- I've made this using cauliflower as one of the veg (about 2 cups of florets), it's really a soup that is from the garden so whatever you have will be fine in it.
- Sub in Kale or Swiss chard for the spinach.
- Always cook the pasta (if you are using it) before it goes into the soup, otherwise, it will absorb all the broth. I've also used cheese tortellini in this soup and it's delicious.
As the day winds down, I pray you are all well and safe. Wear your mask, and keep social distancing. Ciao for now.