Mine-strone-strone and some Aretha

DSC_0071Fall and Winter mean soup. This is indisputable. Most of the time, homemade soup is healthy, filling, and last for daaaaays. When I go home to Cambridge in the chilly months, my Dad almost always has something or other bubbling on the stove. With the sweaters coming out and the leaves a-changin’, I had no choice but to stock up on heaps of veggies and make Minestrone. Minestrone literally means “big soup” (Minestra means soup, the suffix “one” means big. There’s your language lesson for the day, folksies.)DSC_0007

After a morning of some serious work, I needed a break, and what could be better than blasting this: and chopping vegetables to my hearts content? I ended up with a huge pot of Italian Nonna tastiness that I’ve been eating day and night with chewy Italian farro.DSC_0018

Winter Minestrone courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis and Food Network
*I increased on practically everything, which is largely encouraged in a recipe like this. I also did Kale and little beans instead of Chard and Cannellini. I skipped the potato. I also used regular beef broth, because, I’m sorry, I like Umami sodium-laden things. Not PC, I know. Whatever strikes your fancy, homies.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped [I used 4 stalks]
3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped [I used 4 ounces]
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped [I used mixed Kale, because I’m a hipster]
1 russet potato, peeled, cubed [Skipped this]
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed [Used little white beans, not Cannellini]
2 (14-ounce) cans low-sodium beef broth [Full sodium, and I used a 32 ounce carton]
1 ounce piece Parmesan cheese rind
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Salt and pepper


Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, pancetta, and garlic.DSC_0024 Saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and potato; saute for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and rosemary sprig. Simmer until the chard is wilted and the tomatoes break down, about 10 minutes.DSC_0031 DSC_0037

Meanwhile, blend 3/4 cup of the beans with 1/4 cup of the broth in a processor until almost smooth. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and Parmesan cheese rind to the vegetable mixture [Parmesan Rind makes it out of control delicious..]. Simmer until the potato pieces are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Stir in the whole beans and parsley. DSC_0055DSC_0045 Simmer until the beans are heated through and the soup is thick, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Discard Parmesan rind [or don’t, and sneakily chew the cheese of the side] and rosemary sprig (the leaves will have fallen off of the stem.)DSC_0057

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

I’ve expressed my love for Farro before, and I wanted the soup to be EVEN heartier. So, I made some up and sprinkled it on the soup after!:
Rinsing the Farro (necessary step)
DSC_005615 Minutes Later: Chewy, earthy, and, I daresay, healthy!DSC_0062What the doctor ordered:

DSC_0070Go make some soup and listen to Aretha.

An Autumnal Bowl

DSC_0074For me, one of the surest signifiers of chilly weather is soup, specifically butternut squash soup. My dad used to make this for us frequently growing up, and watching the sweet orange concoction cooking down on the stove and then thinning out in the blender always seemed comforting and fortifying, especially against the rapidly decreasing temperatures of autumnal Chicago. When we’d sit down at the dinner table, each plate would be garnished with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream and an herby sprig. Now I try to make this soup at least once each fall, and encounter trouble only when my feeble arms attempt to break down the squash itself. DSC_0078

I’ve used this recipe with the reduction of 6 cups of chicken stock to 3 (I like it chunkier), and the addition of some cayenne pepper:

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe [Courtesy of Cathy Lowe and foodnetwork.com]DSC_0079
1 (2 to 3 pound) butternut squash, peeled and seeded
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cups chicken stock [I used 3]
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
+Cayenne Pepper
Cut squash into 1-inch chunks. In large pot melt butter. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add squash and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove squash chunks with slotted spoon and place in a blender and puree. Return blended squash to pot. Stir and season with nutmeg, [cayenne pepper] salt, and pepper. Serve.