Archive for the ‘No Croutons required’ Category

Always one for a challenge…

February 18, 2008

“Minestrone originally was a very humble dish and was intended for everyday consumption, being filling and cheap, and would likely have been the main course of a meal. Minestrone is part of what is known in Italy as cucina povera (literally “poor kitchen”) meaning poorer people’s cuisine.Due to its unique origins and the absence of a fixed recipe, minestrone is not particularly similar across Italy: it varies depending on traditional cooking times, ingredients, and season.
  Minestrone ranges from a thick and dense texture with very boiled-down vegetables, to a more brothy soup with large quantities of diced and lightly-cooked vegetables that may include meats. Like many Italian dishes, minestrone was probably originally not a dish made for its own sake, though this point is argued. In other words, whereas one might set about killing a rabbit, with the intention of then eating cooked rabbit, one did not gather the ingredients of minestrone with the intention of making minestrone.
  The ingredients were pooled from ingredients of other dishes, often side dishes or “contorni” plus whatever was left over.As eating habits and ingredients changed in Italy, so did minestrone.
   The Roman army is said to have marched on minestrone and pasta fagioli (or beans and pasta), the former making use of local and seasonal ingredients, the latter due to the longevity of dried goods.The introduction of new ingredients from the Americas in the Middle Ages, including tomatoes and potatoes, also changed the soup to the point that tomatoes are now considered a staple ingredient (though the quantity used varies from northern to southern Italy).There are two schools of thought on when the recipe for minestrone became more formalized.
  One argues that in the 1600s and 1700s minestrone emerged as a soup using exclusively fresh vegetables and was made for its own sake (meaning it no longer relied on left-overs), while the other school of thought argues that the dish had always been prepared exclusively with fresh vegetables for its own sake since pre-Roman times, but the name minestrone lost its meaning of being made with left-overs and came to be associated with the dish in the 18th and 19th centuries. The earliest attestation of the modern use of minestrone dates to the 18th and 19th centuries.In the modern era, the ready availability and long storage life of canned stocks and broths means that more minestrone is based on stock or broth than water.
   The availability of newer, more unusual vegetables from the Americas (such as the many varieties of squash) or Asia means some minestrone now include non-European vegetables, though this is frowned upon by purists”
~Source Wikipedia
Minestrone Soup with a Twist
I’m making this today, and tweaking it as I go along, so the ingredients are subject to change! The great thing about the soup, is that I can put in whatever I like. I Love celery, so I’m adding two sticks. I love savoy cabbage, so I’ll be using that as opposed to kale which is more traditionally used in this soup. I often see noodles in minestrone too, but I’m using fusilli (gives it the twist!)
500g chopped Tinned Tomatoes
1 onion peeled and diced
1 potato peeled and diced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot peeled and diced
2 celery sticks diced
100g of dried kidney beans 
1 sprig of basil
2 litres of vegetable stock
200 grams of fusilli pasta (the twist!)
1 diced courgette
200g of shredded savoy cabbage
salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Cook the pasta and set aside
  • Warm the oil in a large soup pot on medium heat.
  • Add the onion and garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes
  • Add the courgette, celery, carrots, potatoes, salt, pepper, and stock and cook for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are almost done.
  • Add the cabbage and beans and simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes, until the cabbage is tender and the beans are hot.

Serve with parmesan and dry Italian bread.

Menu Plan Monday

February 18, 2008

I’m making  a few soups this week, starting with Minestrone, as suggested by 

Monday~ Minestrone with a twist….
Tuesday~Day Off (Bossy’s Confirmation, eating out)
Saturday~Cream of Cauliflower / Cream of Chicken
Sunday~ Got to have a Sunday Lunch!

Menu Planner Monday

February 3, 2008

I’m off to England on Friday morning for my brothers 50th. So this week is a short one, but an adventurous one, too. I’m making four things I’ve never attempted before.


And next week I can’t wait to make these, Nic’s Chicken Mug Pies

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I’ve signed up for another Foodie Event (I’m a sucker for competition!) Take a look at ‘No Croutons Required’ over at Lisa’s Kitchen. It’s a joint effort here with Holler at Tinned Tomatoes. She’s a Jouster, too (I voted for her when she made this) Which brings me onto my entry for this months Royal Joust over at Jenns blog The Leftover Queen. I entered previously but didn’t get anywhere! It would be great to win and pick the three ingredients for the March Joust.

 The only way for you to vote for me though, would be to register in the forum. If you wish to do this go here then here to vote. Why not join in the next Joust?
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Lamb Cutlets on a Spiced Vegetable Broth

12 lean lamb cutlets
125g soaked soup mix (red split lentils, green split lentils, pearl barley and marrowfat peas)
1 white onion
2 sticks celery
2 med potatoes
1 eggplant (aubergine)
2 carrots1 red pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
2 cloves garlic
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 180o
Cook the cutlets for 15 minutes


Dice the vegetables small
Fry onion till soft and add the spices
Add the vegetables and sweat for 5 minutes
Add  soup mix and stock, bring to the boil
Simmer for 20 minutes
Season to taste

Plate up and arrange 3 cutlets on top of each dish
I added a sprig of fresh coriander for extra colour