As the quest for the perfect julienne and brunoise, AKA the “slice ‘n’ dice”, continues a great opportunity to have a warming supper AND practice my knife skills is not one to be missed. Taking the recommendations by my culinary instructors I set out to make their minestrone and make my anything but Italian Grandmothers proud.
Minestrone recipes can be found pretty much anywhere made by just about anyone and I love the ability to add whatever is available (the depths of my fridge) and be able to use it. And it can always be your grandmother’s secret recipe. I embarrassingly admit I love the flavor of Campbell’s ABC Vegetable and have been looking for a grown up recipe. Understanding the foundations of making minestrone (thanks Rouxbe!) I can amp up their instructions to make the almost tomato soup flavor I am looking for. I found this one and this one promising.
Here’s what you really need to know:
BUY GOOD TOMATOES. NO SALT OR PRESERVATIVES (Citric Acid) It’s worth the price and while I try to refrain from naming names, your best bet for this combination is San Marzano tomatoes. Let me know if you find something else that isn’t home canned. Maybe I can grow my own someday when we have a house and a yard.
There isn’t a real secret to minestrone except patience, and I am not the standard bearer of that trait. Ready for this bomb? I am not sure if I would want a soup that can be made in under an hour. Much like chilis and stews, soups need time to simmer for all the flavors to develop and grow. And let’s be honest on the time thing, they’re always better the next day. My version here is reminiscent of a chicken noodle because of the turkey stock frozen from Thanksgiving. What is your favorite flavor profile? Combinations of vegetables? Make sure those are front and center in your soup as it starts to simmer and in the foundations of your stock.
The other secret I insist upon is a good crusty bread or crouton. Your vegetables should be soft, not mushy and yet I find myself desperately seeking some serious textural contrasts. Hence the desire for croutons. Their flavoring can also add an extra punch of herbs, salt, pepper and even parmesan without overwhelming other’s palates. And there should be others– to make a good soup you need volume, plan to at least serve six, or be prepared for leftovers.
These are the winning combinations for Sunday Minestrone. Your grandmother will be so proud she’ll pretend to be Italian.