Friday, February 25, 2011

Jack's Minestrone

This is Jack.

Light of my life, apple of my eye, the reason why I rarely get to cook on weeknights. Jack's a good eater, and he's also our resident flexitarian. He adores beans, veggies, and pasta; most meat or poultry receives a lukewarm reception, at best, and is usually outright ignored. (The exception? Duh, bacon.)

This is another soup recipe that combines some of Jack's favorite foods, and that's easy for us to reheat for him a few times during the week. I threw in some ground beef, because I am not a flexitarian, and I wanted soup, too. But I might just take a page from Jack's book (no pun intended) and leave out the ground beef next time. The soup is pretty hearty without it, and the broth is oh so tasty.

Jack's Minestrone
Serves 6

1 tsp. vegetable or canola oil
3/4 lb. ground beef (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 small zucchini, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
15 oz. tomato sauce
32 oz. chicken broth
2 cans small white beans, drained
Additional salt and pepper, to taste
Cooked pasta

1. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add hamburger, garlic, and onion, and cook until brown.

2. Add the veggies, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and the Italian seasoning and bay leaf. Cook about 2-3 minutes, or until veggies start to sweat.

3. Add tomato sauce and broth, and stir. Bring soup to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer about 15 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.

4. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. You can use any size or shape. Smaller pasta, such as ditalini, is probably more traditional, but I use rotini or even cheese tortellini so it's easier for the little man to eat.

When making soups that include pasta, I usually prefer to cook the pasta separately and add it to the soup later, so the pasta doesn't absorb all the broth from the soup. (It's even more important to store them separately if you have leftovers, or you'll end up with some sort of mushy casserole concoction.)

5. Add beans to soup and heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add pasta to individual servings.

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