Cold, wind, ice, snow, yada, yada, yada. Okay, we know—it’s freezing! So bundle up and move on! Soups and stews are not making it any warmer, and the thought of them is just stressing me out about needing to cook more! Bomb cyclone? A little melodramatic term coined for the headlines, don’t ya think?
It’s not like we weren’t expecting winter; I mean it does come around every year. And it’s not like we are in Florida, are we? No, it’s New York, where it gets cold and it snows. Every year. My friend even posted a Facebook memory that at this time four years ago it was five degrees. I have one word for you: layers! Soup isn’t going to make it warmer when you are braving the elements.
Layers, and a hat, scarf and gloves, should do the trick. And warm boots. And maybe a face mask. Ok, maybe some hand warmers if you will be out for any extended period of time. Make sure to leave extra time for traveling, for scraping the ice off your cars, for shoveling your walks. That will serve you better than making a nice, hearty stew in a crockpot, simmering all day, scenting the air with its welcoming promise of potato chunks, delicate vegetables and tender meat.
Well, perhaps a nice mug of hot cocoa would be a nice consolation to frozen fingers. Or maybe fill said mug with a steaming ladleful of soup, to fill your bellies with vegetables, beans and pasta in a rich, tangy, flavorful broth. To keep you warm from the inside out. That sounds nice. And warm.
Actually, soup does sound better than going to dig out the snow that the plow just dumped back into my driveway. Okay, who am I kidding? I would much rather be in the warm kitchen cooking!
On the bright side, the weather this weekend will be practically balmy! Nothing like a week of single-digit-degree weather to make the 40s feel like the tropics! And before long the cold will be a distant memory and you will be saying “Hot enough for ya?” So, in the meantime, the best suggestion I can make to get us through the next couple of long months is to stay indoors and make some soup! And stop telling me how cold it is. I know!
Hearty Minestrone Soup
- 1/3 C. olive oil
- 4 carrots, diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 3 yellow onions, diced
- 3 leeks, white part only, diced
- 2 potatoes, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced (fresh or frozen)
- 2 tsp. Herbes de Provence (or any dried herb such as basil or oregano)
- 2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 C. green beans, cut into 1″ pieces (fresh or frozen)
- 10 C. chicken, vegetable stock or water (can use boxed, low sodium)
- 1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz.)
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 10 oz. bag of washed baby spinach (can use box of frozen, defrosted and squeezed dry)
- 1/2 cup cooked pasta (elbow or ditalini); use whole wheat!
- salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in large stock pot (at least 6 quarts). Add carrots, celery, onions, leeks, potatoes and garlic. Saute about 5 minutes until vegetables begin to soften. Add dried herbs. Saute another minute until fragrant. Add cannellini beans, green beans, stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 45 minutes until vegetables are soft. Add zucchini, spinach and pasta. Simmer an additional 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper as desired. Flavor improves with age. Serve with grilled cheese on whole wheat bread, and lunch it is! Or…dinner it is! Enjoy!
By Rachel Berger