A Nice Little Italian Minestrone

Italian minestrone

This is called an Italian minestrone — which usually means whatever you have in the fridge made into a soup — and it is a wonderful soup for those occasionally cool rainy days that still show up in April. This came originally from a Bon Appetite article I saw, probably four or five years ago, and with a little tweaking, became a fast friend at my house, at least.

The base for this soup is relatively easy, and it’s very good in just about every situation I can think of. But what’s great, is there are a whole host of other things you can add, which only make it better. I’ve use a little broccoli, some asparagus, some spinach (added late in the soup) and a few other things. I’d stay away from zucchini (courgette) for this recipe, mainly because it drastically changes the taste, but otherwise — go for it. I tend to like the leeks and carrots in this soup. You might try scallions or better yet shallots instead of the leeks, but keep the carrots.

And for the pasta, main thing is to keep it small, little pasta leaves, ditalini, small shells. Just small.

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A Little Vegetarian Minestrone

Minestrone

Minestrone is a staple throughout Italy, and while we will from time to time feature others of this soup, this particular vegetarian version is actually one of our favorites, for a lot of reasons. Unlike a lot of this soup, this minestrone has plenty of good bean broth for starters and lots and lots of fall roast vegetables. 

If you’re not as well-versed in minestrone (like most people aren’t) it is actually a very ancient soup made mainly from whatever veggies you happened to have around the kitchen. This version, like most these days in Italy, has tomatoes and beans and broth from the beans as the main ingredient, which gives it a very vegetable taste that we happen to like a lot. And fortunately, the broth itself really doesn’t take so very long to make. And this one has leeks, turnips, carrots, onions, celery and a little basil and oregano to spice up the flavor. 

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Cheesy Broccoli Soup

cheesy broccoli soup

I told you we’d be having a lot of soup, the past few weeks and yes, we’re still at it. This time around it’s a very cheesy broccoli soup, and this is one of my all time favorites.  It’s got plenty of broccoli and cheese, of course, but it also, strangely, doesn’t need much of the way in seasoning. It’s one of those soups that just, plain, stands for itself.

They key, of course, is the cheese. I like using Gouda and sharp cheddar, which gives a nice lovely flavor without overwhelming the broccoli, but you can indeed use all cheddar or just about anything that seems to fit your mood on a given day. And apart from the little bit of bay leaves (and the celery and carrots), there is no other seasoning required for this soup. That’s because good fresh broccoli provides really all the flavor you could ask for. 

Honestly, guys, THIS is the soup you’ve been waiting for.

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A Little More Soup: This Time It’s Split Pea Soup

split pea soup

I haven’t forgotten about soups! There’s a rule somewhere, that says I can’t write about soups everyday, or every three days, or whatever. And then there’s a rule that says I should write about soups and the rest of you can wait until I get done. So, I’m going to try to split the difference. Which brings us to one of the best creamy soups I’ve ever made — a nice little split pea soup.

I don’t remember a good soup I don’t like, so I’m not much of a fair guide on this. But this soup’s got a rich creamy texture that doesn’t come from eggs or cream, but from a small addition of potatoes instead.  That does something that’s makes this soup slightly different. And it’s also vegetarian (though you could use chicken stock and butter, if you like). What really sets this off, though, is the little addition of bacon and a whole lot of tarragon for the garnish. It adds just the right touch of finesse. 

Oh, and yes, the peas come through like you wouldn’t believe.

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Sausage and Tortellini Soup

sausage and tortellini soup

A good sausage, a little beans and some very good cheesy tortellini are about as much as you could ask for an “Italian style” soup, one that sticks to your ribs and makes you want to go out and tackle the world. Alright fine. Maybe you don’t want to kick the world’s butt this morning, but it does fill you up and does kind of make you want to at least let the world know you’re alive. This sausage and tortellini soup does that, and more.

Better yet, this is another one of those soups that, depending on how you finish it off, you can have most of the soup made, add the tortellini at the end along with some spinach and you’re ready to go as soon as the tortellini is ready. Nice things about good soups is that they’re often flexible like that. You can get them close to finished and then unleash them at just the right second.

This soup uses some good tortellini made with three cheeses and a lovely mild Italian sausage. You can, of course use a hotter sausage and even add a few crushed red peppers to get the spice where you want it.

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Southwest Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

All of a sudden, we’ve gone from 90-plus degrees to 80’s and now we’re barely hitting 70 degrees. It may not last, but I can tell you, it’s starting to feel like soup days are upon us and for my money, that’s a very good thing. We’ll start this week with a great southwestern chicken tortilla soup, and over the next several weeks, we’ll try out a number of other new soups and several that are, well, a bit old, as well. Not everything will be soup, of course, but for now, let’s have some fun with them.

The chicken tortilla soup is one of those “yeah, I probably don’t want this everyday,” but when you really need a real pick me up at the end of a lovely fall day, this is a winner. Oh, and yeah, it’s made in a slow cooker, so you can set it to cook in the morning, go have some fun and come home to a nice warm dinner, with just a little bit of fixin’s on the side. Really, I can’t have this soup without avocado’s but honestly, you can do a lot of stuff to this soup if you really want to do it. 

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White Bean and Tomato Soup with Shrimp

White Bean and Tomato Soup

Usually, soups aren’t a summer thing, but every once in a while, you can come across something that works well just about any time of the year. That’s where this white bean and tomato soup comes into play — and it knocks the socks off the summer season, believe me.

This soup is both rich and at the same time, very light in texture. I’m not sure  why it works that way, but it really does. Nothing is overstated (except maybe the shrimp) and it really works well as both a diner and lunch entree, especially if you’re hot, tired and just want a fresh, light meal with little or maybe even nothing else on the table. 

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