Saturday, December 31, 2011

TV Dinner

I'm not a big fan of having the television on while we eat. With few exceptions, it hardly ever happens in this house. When it does, those exceptions most likely revolve around certain sporting events, such as when the Huskies played in the Alamo Bowl last Thursday evening right around dinner time. Because I wanted to be able to sit down to watch with the rest of the family......I looked for something easy to make that could be prepared earlier in the day. The older boys are only home for a few more mostly healthy and homemade just made ME feel good. We ended up with Minestrone Soup, Whole Grain Bread, lots of Grated Parmesan.

I also made Pumpkin Gingersnap Ice Cream for dessert. It was my brother's contribution to Christmas dinner, and was a huge hit with everyone present. Along with pumpkin, crushed gingersnaps and spices, it has a couple tablespoons of Bourbon added in. Yum........

The soup recipe is from one of the cookbooks I use most often, Simply Classic. I love it and except for being free and easy with the amounts and kinds of vegetables added, and adjusting the seasonings at the end, I make few other adaptations of my own. Everyone here likes a bit of a kick, so I finished it with a few splashes of Tabasco Sauce.

More Than Minestrone
adapted from Simply Classic
Serves 6

5-7 slices of bacon, cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 or more celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 cloves, minced garlic
1 28 oz can, Italian tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped parsley
6 cups chicken stock
1 10 oz can each of kidney, garbanzo and cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp each of dried basil and oregano
1 1/2 cups small shell pasta
Salt, pepper and Tabasco

-Cook bacon in heavy pot until crisp. Add onion and celery then cook for 5 minutes more or until soft.
-Add carrot and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.
-Add tomatoes, parsley, basil, oregano and stock. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. **When making ahead, this is where I turn off the heat, put the lid on the pot and finish right before we eat.
-Add beans. Stir and heat until warmed with the soup.
-Add pasta. Cook for about 8 minutes or until al dente.

A couple of notes:
~I use thick cut nitrite-free bacon and spend a couple extra minutes cutting a lot of the fat off before chopping and cooking it (kitchen scissors work well). If more fat is needed when sauteing the vegetables, I add olive oil. Traditional minestrone doesn't have meat in it....but I love the added flavor of the bacon here.
~I'm also a little loose with the veggies called for and will add an extra carrot or stalk of celery if I want to use them up......or whatever else happens to be in the fridge.
~Chop whole canned tomatoes with kitchen scissors before adding.
~Whole wheat pasta shells hold up better than traditional, and according to me, have a better flavor and bite.
~A tsp or so of pesto swirled into each bowl right before serving is nice.
~This soup freezes well. If you want to freeze it, add pasta shells after it has been thawed and brought to a simmer. Cook for 8 more minutes.

Wishing You A Very Happy and Healthy New Year......Be safe out there tonight!

XO, Margaret


Anonymous said...

Happy New Year, Margaret! And that entire meal sounds wonderful! I've made that soup a number of times, and the ice cream sounds amazing. Have a fun transition from 11 to 12! -- Michele

thisfriendlyvillage said...

Yes...the ice cream is delicious. I added some info about freezing the soup as well! Hope you saw the lovely handwarmers you made me on my last post! HNY! :)

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