Jan, Miriam and Eilene are all going out for a girl’s massage evening. This is part of Miriam’s birthday week. After work, Jan has 20 minutes to eat dinner before she has to take Eilene to meet Miriam at the spa. Jan asked for soup and Eilene asked for minestrone.
Note: Son-in-law, Chris, does not understand why other people get only one day for their birthdays and my wife and daughters get a whole week. It has to do with the academic calendar and the fact that Jan (and now Miriam) usually has to work into the evenings on their birthdays. Jan has guilt that she is usually working on the girls birthdays (and her own) and the tradition has become that events happen all week to make up for it.
Minestrone is a classic Italian soup that has no set ingredients. The name means a “thick vegetable soup.” Whatever is in season is what goes into the pot. Modern versions usually include tomatoes, beans, pasta, and meat as well. Today, I am using a bit of leftover frozen chicken.
This is a good soup to clean out your vegetable bin of things that are not enough to use otherwise. I have some leeks from our garden, more of the leftover Chipolini onions, half a sweet onion, a couple of green onions, a few green beans, an heirloom carrot, a bunch of curly-leafed parsley stems (with all of the leaves removed), a small bunch of flat-leafed parsley, and a quarter of a red bell pepper. No one of these is enough to make a dish, but all together they have possibilities.
To these stray ingredients, I will add celery and garlic (which my vegetable bin is never without). I will also add a can of fire roasted tomatoes, a small can of red kidney beans and two cans of chicken broth. Throw a few dried herbs and some pasta into the mix and everything is set to simmer.
Note: On Sunday’s I would usually make my own stock and use fresh tomatoes and dried beans, but for a weekday meal canned is fine.
After Dinner Note: This soup was just what Jan and Eilene were craving. They left for their messages full and happy. But this also means they are not here to defend the last of the chocolate mousse (buhahaha! They have fallen for my evil plan!)
Karl’s Chicken Minestrone
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 chicken thighs, skinless, boneless (leave out for Vegan/Vegetarian)
10 Chipolini onions, whole
½ cup sweet onion, coarsely chopped
3 green onions, coarsely chopped
1+ stalk celery, coarsely chopped
1+ heirloom carrot, coarsely chopped
1 small leek, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cans low sodium chicken broth (use vegetable broth for Vegan/Vegetarian)
1 bunch parsley stems (tied together in a tight bundle, optional)
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. Kosher salt
1 can fire roasted tomatoes with juices
1 small can red kidney beans, rinsed (you could use cannelloni beans or both)
1 cup green beans cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup dried egg noodles
½ cup flat leafed parsley, coarsely chopped
¼ cup red bell pepper, small dice
1. Put the olive oil in a soup pot and heat over medium high heat.
2. Put in the chicken thighs and fry on both sides until well browned.
3. While the chicken is frying, scatter the Chipolini onions around the chicken and fry on both sides without disturbing them.
Tip: Chipolini onions are small (1-1 ½ inches) and flat. They should be well caramelized, but not burnt, after two minutes on each side.
4. Remove the chicken thighs and Chipolini onions to a plate and reserve.
5. Deglaze the pot with some water or white wine.
6. When the water has boiled away, add the sweet onions and sauté for three minutes.
7. Add the green onions, celery, carrot, and leek, Continue sautéing for three more minutes.
8. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and add the garlic to the hole in the middle. Sauté the garlic one minute, until fragrant, and mix it into the vegetables.
9. Stir in the chicken broth and add the parsley stems, oregano, basil, pepper, salt, and tomatoes. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
Tip: Many people would discard the stems of parsley once they have removed all of the leaves. Save them and add them to your stocks to enhance their flavor. One man’s garbage is another man’s secret ingredient.
10. Chop the chicken into small bite sized pieces.
11. Stir in the chicken, the reserved onions, red kidney beans, green beans and pasta.
12. Simmer, covered, for 10-15 more minutes.
13. Remove the bundle of parsley stems and discard.
14. Stir in most of the flat-leafed parsley and transfer the soup to individual bowls.
15. Garnish with the remaining parsley and red bell pepper.