by Diane Rossen Worthington
Let's face it. Most of us enjoy the holiday goodies a little too much. I know I try to watch it, but sometimes the cakes, cookies and carbs just get the best of me. I don't let it bother me because, come
Diced vegetables in a fragrant broth are always delicious, but another variation is to puree the soup, which transforms it into a creamy potage. Sometimes I even divide the soup in half and serve the diced vegetables in one half of the bowl and the creamy puree in the other half -- a pretty presentation. The soup becomes an entirely new experience when pureed. You can completely puree it or partially puree it, leaving some texture and color in the soup if you like. This colorful vegetable soup is simple to prepare since you need only to peel the carrots and squash. To save even more time, look for pre-peeled and cut butternut squash at your market.
To enrich the broth, I add a rind of Parmesan cheese to the soup while it is simmering. Leeks are my preference for their rich, oniony flavor.
The unusual ingredient here is the garbanzo bean, which adds an underlying earthy flavor as well as serving as a natural thickener for the puree version. Fully cooked garbanzos are added for just a few minutes before the soup is pureed to keep their flavor intact. To dress this up, consider adding a dollop of basil or sun-dried tomato pesto. Or, if you're really being good, just garnish with fresh herbs and a light sprinkling of fresh Parmesan cheese.
Minestrone Soup Recipe
Serves 4 to 6.
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 leeks, light green part and white parts only, cleaned and finely chopped
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
4 zucchini, cut into 1-inch dice
1 pound peeled and cut into 1-inch dice butternut squash
1 teaspoon favorite seasoning salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes with juice
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
Rind of Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained and rinsed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley or basil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving
1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the carrots, zucchini, squash and seasoning salt. Sauté for about 3 more minutes, or until mixed well and beginning to soften. Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
2. Add the tomatoes, broth and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Partially cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add the garbanzo beans and cook another 3 minutes, or until heated through. Add the salt and pepper. Add the parsley or basil. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Remove the Parmesan rind.
3. To serve, ladle the soup into shallow soup bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese.
1. Puree the soup either completely or partially in the pot with a hand blender or in batches in a blender or food processor. Return the soup to the pot, if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
2. To serve: Ladle into shallow soup bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese, sun-dried tomato pesto or basil pesto.
Advance Preparation: May be prepared up to five days ahead in either version, covered and refrigerated. Reheat gently. This may also be frozen. Defrost and reheat gently.
Minestrone Soup's on to Drop those Holiday Pounds Recipe, Italian Cuisine