One of my favorite Christmas gifts from a few years past is a wonderful cookbook by Amanda Hesser. Not only does it include a history of published recipes in the New York Times, it is an intriguing look back on the way food in America has changed over the last 200 years. Everything from the influx of immigration to the invention of the refrigerator have all taken their place in the history of American cuisine. The earliest recipes often did not even contain measurements or descriptions of sizes for pots or bakeware. It was assumed that the cook had the common knowledge to understand the “how to” part of a recipe. Cooking was more of a means of survival in the 1800’s and if you didn’t know how to cook, well, you went hungry. Sadly, so few people know how to cook simple food and worse…they don’t even want to know how. So tragic. I hope that, like my mother did for me, my 3 boys will not only know how to follow a recipe but have the common knowledge to know what to do with a few good ingredients. Once you feel confident in the kitchen with a handful of tried and true recipes there will be no stopping you. Cook on!
Please enjoy this wonderful vegetable soup, “a French version of minestrone” so to speak. Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, it’s only veg. You will be utterly amazed at how adding a simple pesto in final steps will suddenly flood your kitchen with such a delectable scent you will be instantly whisked away to Paris in early spring, if only in your mind.
1 TBS veg oil
1 small onion, small dice
1 turnip, small dice
1 lg carrot, peeled and small dice
4 cups water
2 cups chicken broth or veg broth*
1 TBS salt or more to taste
2 lg white potatoes, peeled and small dice
1 lg leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
1 small zucchini cut into small dice
2 small handfuls of think green beans cut into 1” peices
2 TBS finely chopped basil
2 lg cloves garlic minced
2 lg tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1TBS olive oil
1 can drained and rinsed cannelloni beans
1 handful of thin spaghetti broken into thirds
freshly ground pepper
Put it together
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add the carrot and turnip and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the water and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Add the salt, potatoes, leeks, zucchini, and green beans. Simmer for 20 minutes.
3. While the soup simmers, combine the parsley and in a medium bowl. Stir in tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. Set aside.
4. Stir in beans and pasta into the soup. Simmer for 8 mintutes.
5. Stir in pesto mixture and season with freshly ground pepper and salt if desired.
Serve hot or at room temperature.