There is a time and place for soup | Minestrone-ish
So fine, this is purely an opinion piece, but that’s why I have a personal blog. I’m not here to tell you how to live your life, I just want a place where I can say what I want to say without being interrupted or wondering if that look in your eyes means you’ve stopped listening and started playing Tetris in your head.
It’s 90 degrees of humid outside and I just made a big pot of soup of which I’m eating right now thankyouverymuch because I believe there are certain scenarios in life that call for (demand) soup to be made. Some of you (Sarah) hold the opinion that soup never needs a reason and I wonder what kind of childhood you had.
I’ve just returned from a 5 day trip to Canada visiting the family, eating all the Twisties (Malta’s version of a Cheeto and no I can’t share with you), and drinking all the local beers/ciders/wine because how do you survive 5 days with your family? (I’m kidding, nanna, I love you.) Also, I recently learned that the reason a Tim Horton’s medium double-double tastes so good is because the cream is 18%, so I’m basically drinking birthday cake for breakfast and then holding in farts the rest of the day.
And so, for the 10 hours it took to drive back to Kentucky, I spent the time eating salamis and crackers and chocolate covered almonds (anyone else???), listening to Canadian talk radio, and planning a meal that would put my digestion right. Cue: An Appropriate Time to Make Soup.
(When It’s Colder Than Heck, When You Have A Stuffed Nose, When You Are Broke Because You Spent All Your Money On Fancy Cheeses So You Throw Last Week’s Macaroni And Some Raisins Into A Pot With Water And Pepper, and When You Are Bored are clearly the only other suitable scenarios and I trust you don’t need me to elaborate.)
But my other favorite time to make soup is when I just need something easy. Easy to make, easy on my digestion, easy on the budget. I like to borrow the elements that make up Minestrone (those elements being a can of crushed tomatoes and a parm cheese rind) and then add whatever else I may have in the crisper or that is in season at the grocery and let it all simmer while I unpack/drink some water/scroll through Instagram.
It’s soothing, after having navigated traffic and hazardous debris on the interstate (there is a ladder laying across an entire lane in Cincinnati, you guys!), to stand barefoot at the counter and chop carrots and celery and look out the window and stir things in a large, heavy pot. I don’t worry too much about form and order here. The crunchiest of veg goes in first for a few minutes to soften and brown and then everything else goes in with the stock or just plain water and some pinches of salt and cracks of pepper and it all simmers under a lid for half an hour or an entire episode of Queer Eye.
And you feel like you’ve accomplished something really extraordinary, as if surviving 800 miles, doing the math on your bladder size and the distance between rest areas, and not pissing off the border gatekeepers wasn’t enough.
Here’s how I made it, but please note that this is highly adaptable.
1/4 cup olive oil
a couple cloves of garlic, whole
2 carrots, peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 scallions, green tops only, chopped
1 small potato, peeled, chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small can crushed tomatoes
2 cups broth (or just plain water is fine)
salt + pepper
Heat oil over medium heat in large pot. Add garlic cloves and let simmer for a few minutes. Remove just before they start to brown. Add carrots and celery and a pinch of salt and saute till softened, about 7 minutes. Add a few splashes of water if they start to stick to bottom of pot. Add green onions and basil and saute another 2-3 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients (see??? So not fussy!), bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 30-ish minutes. Check seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste.
** A few things to note:
I had pureed basil in ice cube trays in my freezer from a previous harvest. You can use chopped fresh basil, a teaspoon of dried basil, or a teaspoon of pesto. Or leave it out all together. No stress here, right?
I remove the garlic and use only the green parts of the scallions because I want to make this as soothing on my digestion as possible. If those things don’t bother your stomach feel free to chop the garlic before adding and don’t worry about removing it and use any onion you like.
Some cooked pasta would make this a very hearty meal, if hearty is what you need.