Minestrone Soup

Minestrone

I have been making this Minestrone Soup recipe for over 20 years. It’s one of our favorite soups. This soup is very versatile and can easily be tweaked to use what you have on hand. Garbanzo or cannellini beans are excellent substitutes for the kidney beans. Other veggies, like green beans, can be added to this soup. If you like a brothier soup, add 1 or 2 cups more of vegetable broth when you add the pasta. This recipe freezes very well.

Minestrone Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups vegetable broth
1 can (15.5 oz.) kidney beans, drained
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with juices
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 – 3 teaspoons dried basil
½ cup dry pasta (small shells, ditalini, or elbow macaroni)
2 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 cup fresh spinach or kale (optional)
salt and black pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté 2 more minutes. Add the vegetable broth, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, sliced carrots, and dried basil. Bring the soup to a boil, lower heat to medium low, and simmer 10 minutes. Add the dry pasta; return to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 5 – 7 minutes. Add the zucchini and spinach or kale, if using, and cook until tender, about 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. A sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese is a perfect topping for this soup.


Kimchi Fried Rice

This is a great way to use up Kimchi. The rice used in this recipe should be at least one day old, otherwise it is too wet.

Kimchi Fried Rice

4 1/2 cups day-old cooked white rice (if you can find it, get a medium grain rice like Kokuho Rose brand)

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced tablespoon minced ginger
4 ounces baby bella mushrooms, cleaned, halved, and sliced
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 cup kimchi, chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 cup fresh spinach (optional)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
sesame seeds

eggs
butter

Make the rice the day before.

Heat the canola oil in a wok over high heat. Add the diced onions, and cook, stirring, until they start to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute more. Add the mushrooms, carrots, and zucchini and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped kimchi and cook another 1 or 2 minutes to heat through.

Add the rice and cook until warmed through and well combined with the other ingredients, another 3 minutes. Season with the soy sauce, gochujang, and sesame oil, stirring to evenly coat all of the rice and veggies. Mix in the the spinach, if using. Turn the heat down to low while you fry the eggs.

In a small fry pan, melt the butter and fry the eggs to desired doneness (I like mine over-easy).

To serve, place the Kimchi Fried Rice in a dish and top with a fried egg. Sprinkle with sliced scallions and sesame seeds.


Chicken and Snow Pea Noodle Soup

I joined a new-to-me CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) recently and got my first box of fresh produce this week. The box included: collards, red Russian kale, red leaf lettuce, strawberries, spring onions, and snow peas. Off to a good start. I am so excited to see what the next 11 CSA boxes hold.

I created this soup recipe to use the snow peas and a spring onion from this week’s CSA box. Spring onions are not the same as green onions (AKA scallions), but if you can’t find spring onions I think green onions are an acceptable substitute. This article is a nice explanation of the difference between spring onions, green onions, and scallions.

I used a couple of shortcuts for this soup. I used ginger paste from a tube that I got at Trader Joe’s and pre-cut matchstick carrots I got at Publix. It’s okay to use the shortcuts. It’s okay to make your life easier when you can.

Chicken and Snow Pea Noodle Soup

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 clove garlic, made into a paste
1 tablespoon of ginger paste (or 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, made into a paste)
1 – 3 tablespoons sriracha or sambal olek, to taste
1 medium-sized spring onion, white part and some green, thinly sliced
8 cups chicken broth
2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1 carrot, julienned (or about 1/2 cup of matchstick carrots)
8 ounces snow peas, trimmed and halved
juice from one lime (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons of fish sauce, or to taste
rice vermicelli noodles, cooked according to package instructions and drained
cilantro (mint and Thai basil would be nice too)
fresh chile, thinly sliced

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic paste, ginger paste, and sriracha or sambal olek. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the sliced spring onions and cook another minute or two. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the chicken to the simmering soup and cook until no longer pink. Add the carrots and snow peas. Bring the soup back up to a simmer. Add the lime juice and fish sauce and take the soup off the heat.

Serve the soup over cooked rice vermicelli noodles. Top with fresh cilantro leaves and sliced chiles, if you would like.


Steak and Guinness Stew

Each year I make this stew (or a version of it) to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It is delicious and totally worth the time it takes to babysit it so that it does not burn.

This year I served it with mashed red potatoes and fried cabbage.

Steak and Guinness Stew

2 pounds stew beef
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 14.9 ounce can of Guinness
4 tablespoons cornstarch
salt and black pepper, to taste

Puff pastry squares (measuring about 4 inches by 4 inches), baked according to package directions.

Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Brown the stew beef. Add the chopped onions and cook until softened. Add the sliced mushrooms and garlic. Next, add 1 cup of the beef broth and the Guinness. Mix the cornstarch in the remaining 1/2 cup of beef broth and add to the other ingredients. Bring the stew to a slight boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cook on low for 2 hours, stirring very often, until the beef is tender. The stew has the tendency of sticking to the bottom of the pot, so be sure to stir often. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, spoon the stew onto a plate, and top with a pastry square.

 


Hot Water Cornbread

 

This is another favorite from my childhood. It’s a Southern classic. My Dad used to add in shredded sharp cheddar cheese, minced onion, and minced jalapenos to his hot water cornbread mixture before frying. Experiment with the add-ins. The possibilities are endless. I like my hot water cornbread simple, plain. I’ve been known to dip mine in ketchup, but others like them drizzled with honey are maple syrup. They go great with a nice pot of pinto beans.

Hot Water Cornbread

2 cups cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
2 cups boiling water
oil for frying

Add about an inch of oil to a cast iron skillet. Heat oil over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, combine the cornmeal and salt in a bowl. Add the boiling water and mix well. Let the mixture cool slightly. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, shape into patties by forming a ball with about 2 or 3 tablespoons of the mixture and then flattening it into a 1/2-inch patty with your fingers. Fry the patties in the hot oil in small batches, turning often until golden on both sides. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.


Lentil Soup with Ham

Lentil Soup with Ham2

I cooked a ham for Christmas dinner this year. When I cook ham, I usually buy a very small boneless ham because only two of us will eat it. This year I bought a bigger, semi-boneless ham. It was actually less expensive than a smaller ham, but now I have tons of leftover ham. I’ll freeze some and then get creative with the rest. This should be interesting. : )

Lentil Soup with Ham

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
8 cups chicken(or vegetable) broth
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup of ham, diced
salt and pepper, to taste

In a soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the minced garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the dried lentils and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add the diced ham and zucchini and cook until the lentils have reached the desired level of  tenderness, 10 to 20 minutes. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.


Shrimp Laksa

Shrimp Laksa

Laksa is a spicy noodle soup that is popular in Singapore and Malaysia.  There are a gabillion different variations of it.  Some have a curry-coconut broth while others have a sour fish broth or tamarind-based broth.  Laksa can be made with seafood, chicken, beef, and/or tofu. This particular Laksa recipe is one I came up with after scanning about 20 other Laksa recipes online.  It’s not all that authentic, but it is quick, tasty, easy to prepare, and the ingredients can be found in most American grocery stores.

Shrimp Laksa

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced (or about 1 tablespoon of ginger paste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon (or to taste) sambal olek (sriracha can be substituted)
4 cups broth (vegetable, chicken, shrimp, etc…)
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 package rice vermicelli, cooked according to package directions
fish sauce, to taste
fresh cilantro
fresh lime wedges
chopped fresh chiles (optional)

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat and sauté the onion softened.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.  Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, and sambal olek (or sriracha).  Add the broth and bring to a boil.
As soon as the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat and add the shrimp and coconut milk.  Let cook until shrimp is pink and cooked through, about 3 – 4 minutes.  Season to taste with the fish sauce, about 1 tablespoon.

Divide the cooked rice noodles in bowls and ladle the soup over the noodles.  Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve with lime wedges and chiles (optional).