Italian Minestrone Soup

 

This hearty minestrone is easy to make and totally worth the effort.
The recipe calls for seasonal vegetables and affordable pantry ingredients you can find in any local grocery store, making it budget friendly. Like an Italian minestrone soup, this recipe is loaded with vegetables, beans, spinach and ditalini pasta. The soup packs great for lunch, and tastes even better the next day. You can make this dish dairy free, gluten-free and vegan friendly. Just see the following  Cook’s Notes.  This recipe calls for about 24 servings, so just know that it also freezes and defrosts well too. It is extra nice to have on hand in the freezer on during those days when you feel like being a lazy cook in the kitchen, especially during the winter months.

Serves 24

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 cup of small diced pancetta bacon
2 peeled and small diced yellow onions
4 finely minced cloves of garlic
2 thinly sliced leeks, optional
4 medium diced stalks of celery
4 peeled and sliced carrots
1 peeled and medium diced turnip
1 peeled and medium diced parsnip
½ small diced bulb of fennel core removed, optional
3 peeled and large diced russet potatoes
Three 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes in juice
Three 15-ounce cans of drained cannellini beans
128 ounces of chicken stock
3 parmesan cheese rinds (See Cook’s Notes)
2 cups of frozen peas
2 cups baby spinach, chopped kale or chopped collard greens
juice of 1 lemon
2 pounds of cooked and cooled ditalini pasta (See Cook’s Notes)
Salt, to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese and fresh oregano and rosemary sprigs, for garnish

 

Directions:
In a very large pot or stockpot over medium heat add in the pancetta and cook until browned and crispy. Set aside the pancetta lardons.

Add in the onions, garlic, leeks, celery, carrots, turnip, parsnips and fennel to the pot and sauté for 10 to 12 minutes.

Add in the potatoes, tomatoes, beans, stock and cheese rinds and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Add the peas, spinach, lemon juice, cooked pancetta, salt, and pepper.

To serve, ladle into bowl and garnish with parmesan, oregano and rosemary, if desired.

 

Cook’s Notes:
Minestrone soup is subject to change based on what you have and what’s in season. This minestrone soup recipe may look completely different in the summer since things like zucchini, yellow squash and squash peak in are that season. For the Spring, you might want to use peas, green beans and leeks for the soup. As for autumn seasonal vegetables, potatoes turnips, butternut squash, also work for this recipe. Basically, whatever vegetables you have on hand will work in this recipe. Left over vegetables will also work in a pinch too.

Grains or Pasta: Italian minestrone soup can also use things like farro or cous cous as the grain or pasta in the soup, such as orecchiette, elbow or small shell pasta. To make this soup gluten free, you can also substitute your favorite sturdy gluten-free noodle, such as DeLallo’s Whole-Grain Rice Shells.

Parmesan Cheese: The Parmesan cheese rind is not a necessity, but it will add some delicious umami flavors to the soup. You can add grated Parmesan to the soup as a substitute, or shredded Parmesan can be added as a garnish.

However, if you want to make the soup dairy free and vegan friendly, do not use Parmesan cheese or the pancetta. Most Parmesans are not technically vegetarian because they contain animal rennet. As a reliable substitute, Whole Foods 365 and Bel Gioioso brands do offer vegetarian Parmesan cheese, and both will work really well in this recipe.

How to Reheat: To reheat the minestrone soup simply add your desired portion to a small sauce pot and heat over low heat until hot. You can also simply add your desired portion to microwave safe bowl and heat for 2:30 stirring after 1:15.

How to Store: Minestrone soup will hold well in the refrigerator covered up for up to 5 days. It will also freeze well covered for up to 3 months. Simply pull it out as you need it and reheat following the directions above.

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Georgia Blue Collard Greens

Picked from the Garden this Morning……..

Georgia Blue Collards (Brassica oleracea). A great old Southern favorite, pre-1880 heirloom variety that has a good resistance to heat and cold.A Southern favorite, and also performs well up North. Georgia Blue, is a collard green that has tender, blue-green leaves that will withstand light frost. The mild cabbage-like flavor that is tasty and actually improves with a light frost. Plant in spring and again in late summer for a fall to winter harvest. Avoid areas where any of the cabbage family members, like kale, broccoli or cabbage were grown the previous year. The Georgia Blue is a real producer with a huge yield.

georgia-collards.jpg

Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey, for Dinner…………………

 

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor


Pumpkin Pie Spiced Lattes with Honey Whipped Cream

Starbucks debuted it’s Pumpkin Spice Latte in the Fall of 2003 Vancouver and Washington, D.C.  By 2004, it was in all the Starbucks Coffee Shops and the public has been addicted to it ever since. Over 200 million cups of this seasonal beverage has been sold since it was introduced in 2003.

If you are a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte drinker, you do not have to wait in line to get this popular drink, especially if you can make it home and have it any time you crave it. I tailored the drink to my own taste by adding  cayenne pepper for a kick and cardamon and a little bit of whipped cream with just a touch of honey.

Enjoy!

Makes 2 drinks

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more to garnish (click here for the recipe)
Ground cayenne pepper, to taste
Ground cardamom, to taste
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups whole milk
1 to 2 shots espresso, about 1/4 cup
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon honey

Directions:
In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the pumpkin with the pumpkin pie spice, cardamom and dash of the cayenne pepper for 2 minutes and is fragrant. Stir constantly.

Add the sugar and stir until the mixture looks like a bubbly thick syrup.

To warm the milk, whisk in the milk and vanilla extract. Warm gently over medium heat, watching carefully to make sure it does not boil over.

Carefully process the milk mixture with a hand blender or in a traditional blender. If you are using a traditional blender, hold the lid down tightly with a thick wad of towels to prevent scalding or burning your hands. Blend the milk until it is  frothy.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream and honey until firm peaks form.

To serve the lattes, add the espresso to  the pumpkin mixture; stir  and divide between two mugs and add the frothed milk. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, cardamom or nutmeg if desired.Serve immediately.

Cook’s Notes:
Espresso Substitute:
If you don’t have espresso on hand, you can use strong brewed coffee instead. Increase amount to 1/3 to 1/2 cup.

Make a big batch of pumpkin spice mix-in: If you like, you can make a big batch of the pumpkin spice base, and refrigerate.

To make 8 full servings, cook 1/2 cup pureed or canned pumpkin with 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/2 cup sugar. Stir in 1/2 cup vanilla extract. Refrigerate for up to 1 week and use as desired. To serve, blend 1/3 cup pumpkin spice mix-in with milk until frothy, and add 1 or 2 shots of espresso. Top with whipped cream and serve.