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Alright, fine. I’ve been having a tough time. Chronic illness/pain is NO JOKE, as much as I try to make it one since it’s ruined my entire life, sometimes it knocks the hell out of me. If anyone actually reads this and cares, I am doing a decent amount better. I don’t want to say I’m doing too well, because some days I wake up and sink back into bed, choosing not to acknowledge reality until it starts to play nice again. Since it’s playing nice even just a little, I’m going to try and get my junk together. So I made soup!
Fall is coming. It’s in the air. Nights are getting crisper, and pumpkin spice is haunting all of our dreams. I might not get to enjoy it much, seeing as I’ve missed out on Winter and Summer so far, but you better believe I’m still going to play along. Here’s my super quick and easy minestrone soup.
• 1 Box Chicken Stock • 1 Box or Large Can Puréed Tomatoes • Sun Dried Tomatoes
• 2 Cans Each Kidney, Chick & White Beans • 1 Yellow Onion • 2 Medium Zucchini
• Salt • Pepper • Dried Oregano • Dried Dill • Garlic Powder • White Pepper(optional)
*** If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, subbing water or veggie stock for the chicken stock won’t hurt this!
It looks like a lot of ingredients, but I promise, it’s quick.
First, chop up your onion as chunky or dicey as you like. As usual, throw that in the pot with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil or any other non-stick you like to use and sprinkle a little sea salt on top to let them sweat. (If you’re limiting salt, skip that.) Let them go until they’re a little soft, not too much, they’re going to be cooking in the soup the entire time.
While those are mellowing, chop up your Sun Dried Tomatoes. I used around seven in mine. Damn! They’re hard to chop up, if you’ve got a food processor, don’t make your life any harder than it has to be (unless you’re a jerk, make it harder and gain some perspective). However, if you’re stressed and have a bit of anger to get out, I found that digging into the little buggers and then slamming the large knife down onto the board while they pulverized was quite satisfying…I’M FINE.
I like to add a little bit of chicken stock (or water if you’re veggie) at this point. It gets the tiny onion bits up off the pot, and I like to let a little sauce form to pre-release the Sun Dried Tomatoes. It probably doesn’t do anything.
While that melds, cut up your zucchini. Again, cut it up as big or small as you’d like. I like this soup hearty, so I cut the up pretty chunky as you can see below.
Let the zucchini soften for LITERALLY two minutes. You just want them tossed around.
After they’ve married with the tomatoes and onions, you’re going to add in your six cans of beans. SIX CANS?! It sounds like a lot, but in all that liquid, one can of each won’t show up to the party – just believe me. Make sure you rinse the beans off and look for little pebbles that may be left in with them. Yuck.
Look at that chicken stock stream action shot! Add in the whole box of stock, or almost cover the ingredients with your water. Leave about an inch because we’re going to add…
A box or large can of tomato purée!
That chicken stock line can be a measure of where you’ll want your liquid line.
Now stir everything up and put the heat on medium, and play around with spices. This is where I like to add in a couple shakes of Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, and Dried Oregano and Dill. I add about a TBSP and a half of the dried herbs. I go light on the Salt (don’t forget there is salt in the chicken stock, unless you’re using water, your own stock, or low sodium stock, so be conscious of that or it’ll be too salty!), and heavy on the Pepper. I like this soup to be zesty, minestrone has that classic, deep herby flavor to it. I’m not sure what the exact science to achieve it is, so I just keep pouring in herbs and tasting until it feels right.
I also like to add a bit of White Pepper. Now, if you haven’t played with White Pepper before, it can get real hot, real fast. I literally added a sprinkling and this soup had a serious heat to it, not temperature-wise. If you don’t want your soup to have a hot pepper note to it, leave it out. If you’re one of those crazy people who can’t even taste heat DUMP IT!
After you’re done doing all of that, your pot should look something like this.
Cover it and let it come to a slight boil. Once it does, immediately set it to a medium/low simmer. Now is when you should add in around two cups of frozen corn, or any frozen veggies you’d like to add! Let it simmer on that heat–the soup should just barely be rolling and releasing small, sporadic air bubbles–for about 20 to 30 minutes.
When it’s done, everyone should be married and happy together. I’d take a taste and add a few more spices. Once it’s to your liking, put a big ol’ ladle of it into your favorite soup dish.
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