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Tuesday
Jan282014

Minestrone Soup with Farro

  

Is it cold enough for you?  Here in Michigan we have had just about enough of winter. The wind chills keep forcing our schools to close and it just never seems to end. We haven't had one thaw all winter. So I keep making cold weather dishes like chili, ragus and soups.

I've never posted a recipe for Minestrone Soup because it just seems so basic but there are people who are just beginner cooks and need a good basic soup recipe. This is a classic Minestrone with lots of vegetables and beans but instead of using pasta in this version, I used farro.  If you are looking to eat more whole grains and avoid white flour, farro is a good swap.  You can still use pasta in this recipe if you like - just throw some small pasta in for the last 10 or 15 minutes of cooking. 

This farro that I have been buying lately is a really terrific whole grain from Bluebird Grain Farms.  Farro is an ancient grain that Romans have been eating for centuries.  Emmer is a more old world term for farro, but it is the same thing. This farro is very chewy and plump and worth a try over the pearled farro that you can buy in the grocery store. 

When I make soup, I don't use a recipe but I had to put quantities down for an official recipe!  So when you make the soup, use the quantities of vegetables that you like and use the kind of vegetables you like.  Don't like zucchini?  Just leave it out.  Want more broth in the soup - just add more.  Make it the way you like it. And remember - it's better when you make it, refrigerate for a while and then reheat it.  You can even freeze it. 

Stay warm!

Minestrone Soup with Farro

for a printable version, click here

serves 8 - 10

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅔ cup diced onion
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • 1 cup sliced leek, white & light green parts only
  • 1½ cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup chopped red cabbage 
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 cup chopped green beans
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • ⅔ cup sliced sweet bell pepper
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • ½ cup farro  (or use tiny pasta if you like)
  • 4 - 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 cup packed spinach, chopped

Instructions:

In a large heavy pot, add the olive oil, onion, celery, leek, carrots and cabbage. Cook for about 15 minutes over medium low heat, stirring the vegetables until slightly soft.  

Add the rest of the ingredients except the spinach and only 4 cups of the broth.  Break up the San Marzano tomatoes with your hands as you add them.  (if using tiny pasta, add the pasta during the last 10 or 15 minutes of cooking). Cover and cook at a gentle simmer for about 45 minutes.  Taste and check for seasoning, adding more sea salt if desired.  Add the spinach and cook for 10 minutes. Check seasoning again. If too thick, add more chicken broth.

This soup is even better if you can make it in the morning, let it cool and refrigerate and then rewarm just before serving.  

Grate Parmigiano cheese on top to serve if you like.  We like it!

Tuesday
Jan142014

Homemade Soft Pretzels

 

I had a neighbor many years ago who made these pretzels one day when our kids were in nursery school.  She made all the letters of the alphabet with them and the kids loved them.  They were so good and I couldn't believe you could make homemade pretzels like that. She gave me the recipe and I have been making them ever since. They're so easy and quick - you don't even have to let them rise.

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Tuesday
Dec312013

Italian Pulled Pork

I really love pork and one of my favorite cuts is the pork shoulder.  Sliced into steaks, it's one of my family's favorites on the grill with lots of cracked pepper and lemon.  Cooked whole and braised for hours in the oven, it becomes pulled pork.  It's a really versatile and delicious cut of meat.  In my version, San Marzano tomatoes and peperoncini are put into a big pot with the pork and cooked for about 5 hours.  The result is a tender, fall-apart pork with tangy sauce.

 

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