Last Sunday I was planning to cook a pot-au-feu and figured that as long as I was chopping up lots of vegetables and keeping an eye on a simmering something, I might as well make soup at the same time. Despite having had a disappointing experience the night before with the focaccia in The Art of Simple Food, I settled on its recipe for winter minestrone.
It turned out very, very well. There’s a lot to love about this soup. Most of the vegetable soups I make are meant to be pureed, which is fine with me but not really to Andrew’s liking; this one is quite chunky and therefore full of different tastes and textures. It doesn’t call for stock, so I don’t have to feel guilty about not having a freezer full of it. It’s very satisfying and even felt a little luxurious (we’re talking about boiled vegetables here) when drizzled with olive oil and Parmesan. It’s quite healthy, and it keeps well—I’m eating the last bowl for lunch now, and it still tastes delicious.
Winter Minestrone Soup with Turnips, Potatoes, and Cabbage
adapted from The Art of Simple Food
I had to use pinto beans instead of cannellini beans because my Whole Foods (Columbus Circle) doesn’t seem to stock its shelves for people who actually cook (what’s the story with that, Whole Foods? Why weeks at a time with no restocking of cumin, baking soda, or dried garbanzos? And why did you stop carrying Goya brand plain beans? To be fair to the store, judging from my fellow shoppers' habits in the store, they are much more interested in their Blackberries than in baking a cake or cooking beans from scratch). For once, I cooked the beans to a perfectly delightful texture, neither dry nor waterlogged. In the future I might try pureeing a cup or half cup of beans, vegetables, and liquid and stirring it back into the soup to thicken it up a bit. I did something similar once in this recipe and liked the results very much.
-Cook 1 cup of dried beans, preferably cannellini or borlotti. Do not discard the cooking liquid.
-Chop ½ of a green cabbage into bite-size pieces and simmer in salted water until tender, about 3 or 4 minutes.
-Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a soup pot over a medium flame. Add a finely chopped onion, 2 finely chopped carrots, and 2 finely chopped celery stalks (my dice was ¼- 1/2 inch, I think). Cook, stirring often enough, until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
-Add 4 chopped garlic cloves, 5 thyme sprigs, 1 bay leaf, and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook and stir 5 more minutes. Add 5 or 6 cups water and bring to a boil. [The original recipe said to add 3 cups of water, but that just wouldn’t have worked…maybe my cabbage was too big!] When the water bubbles, add a diced small leek (white part only) and cook for 5 minutes. Then add 1 pound turnips, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces, and ½ pound yellow potatoes, unpeeled and chopped into bite-size pieces, and simmer for 15 minutes.
-Taste for salt. Add the cooked beans, 1 cup of the bean cooking liquid, and the cabbage. Simmer 5 minutes more.
-Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.