Monday, May 10, 2010
Minestrone w/ Pine Nut Pesto
I've said it many times before - "this recipe is so simple". Well, this time it isn't. You need a lot of ingredients, a lot of time, and a lot of patience. There is a lot of prep involved with this soup. If you take the time to do ALL of your prep before you begin you'll be able to make this dish by simply adding ingredients when the time is right. I recommend taking two days to make this soup. The first day will be set aside for prepping only. The second day will be the actual cooking. If you do everything that is laid out in this recipe on day one, then day two will be "so simple".
[I will be making this dish 100% from scratch, but many of the raw ingredients can be substituted for canned products. These ingredients will be marked with an asterisk (*) for those who wish to follow the canned version of the recipe.]
4 Tbsp. Butter
3 Carrots, diced (6 oz. wt.)
3 Celery, diced (6 oz. wt.)
3 Onions, diced (6 oz. wt.)
1/4 C. Garlic, minced
8 C. Vegetable Stock
1 Tbsp. Basil
2 Tbsp. Oregano
1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
1/2 tsp. Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
1-1/2 lb. Tomatoes, diced, skin removed*
2 C. Cannelini Beans*
1 C. Garbanzo Beans (also called Chickpeas)*
2 C. Idaho Potatoes, diced
3/4 C. Parmesan, grated
2 Tbsp. Pine Nut Pesto [recipe follows]
Pine Nut Pesto
2 Tbsp. Pine Nuts
1 Tbsp. Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1 oz. wt. Parsley
2 oz. wt. Fresh Basil
3/4 C. Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. Parmesan, grated
Day One - Heavy Prep
For the pesto, I use a stick-mixer, but a food processor or blender will work as well. Place all the ingredients except for the oil into the process and pulse. Once the the ingredients are coarsely chopped up, puree them on a high speed while slowly pouring in the olive oil. Continue blending until everything is well incorporated. Place in the fridge to set overnight.
Removing the skin from the tomatoes can be a tricky process. Boil a pot of water large enough to hold all the tomatoes. Prepare a container of ice water as well. I prefer using romas whenever I have to skin tomatoes. With a paring knife, cut out the stem on the top by inserting the blade at a forty-five degree angle and rotating the tomato all the way around. On the bottom of the tomato carve an "X" (approximately 1/4" deep). Drop all the tomatoes into the boiling water and blanch for 90 seconds. Quickly remove the tomatoes and place them in the ice water for later use.
* If using canned tomatoes, skip this step. Buy two 28oz cans of whole peeled tomatoes and dice them.
Place 1 Cup of cannelini beans in a container and cover with cold water. Place in the fridge overnight. The beans will soften and double in size to produce about 2 cups of beans. If you don't have enough time to soak them overnight, you can boil the raw beans for about 30 minutes before adding them to the soup. If you can't find Cannelini beans, you can substitute Great Northern White kidney beans. They're part of the same family.
* If using canned cannelini beans, skip this step. Buy two cups of beans and add them to the soup when specified.
Place the garbanzo beans in a container and cover with cold water. Place in the fridge overnight.
* If using canned garbanzo beans, skip this step. Buy one cup of beans and add them to the soup when specified.
Dice the potatoes until you have about 2 cups and place in cold water to prevent browning. Hold them cold in the fridge overnight.
Dice the mirepoix (carrots, onions, and celery) with the garlic and place in the fridge overnight. You can put them all in the same container.
By this time, the tomatoes should be ready to peel. Remove one tomato at a time and, using your fingers, peel back the skin. The skin should come off easily and require very little effort. Some of the tomatoes may slip out of the skin on their own. Once all the tomatoes have been skinned, either dice them (saving all the juice) or hand-crush them into a container and hold in the fridge overnight.
Combine all of your spices in a small bowl and set aside.
Day Two - Mise en Place
In a heavy bottomed pot, over medium high heat, melt the butter. Add the carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and spices and saute until soft (about 12 minutes). Be sure to stir frequently. Don't be afraid if the bottom of the pan starts to become spotty with brown "cracklin". This is called fond and fond = flavor. All of this fond will be released from the pan when liquid is added.
When the vegetables are soft, add the stock to the pot and bring everything to a boil. Add the cannelini beans, garbanzo beans, potatoes, and tomatoes. Simmer everything for about 30-40 minutes to blend all the flavors.
When the potatoes and beans are softened, turn off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese and pesto. Finish the soup with fresh spinach.