Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I like summer, but one thing I love about Autumn is having just enough nip in the air to give me an excuse to put on a big pot of soup.

Over at the Cooking Light Bulletin Boards, there is often a monthly soup thread running where we gather to exchange our favorite soup recipes or to review recipes we've tried recently. That's where I found one of our new favorites, the Very Creamy Vegetable Chowder.

I've been keeping an eye on the September soup thread to see if anything tasty comes up and my "to try" list is growing already with at least 3 or 4 that I would like to try.

First up, though was a minestrone recipe from Food Network's Giada. Now that I can readily find prociutto and pancetta, I have been attracted to just about any recipe that mentions either one. I also love any reason to try a green that is unfamiliar to us. I have cooked with Swiss chard before, but have not yet used it in a soup and soup is the perfect place to hide greens when your family regards them with doubt and suspicion.

This soup had a lot of chopping to do which slows me down in the kitchen - I'm not exactly a whirlwind when it comes to wielding a knife, more like slow and plodding - but it was otherwise easy to put together.

The simple act of throwing in one sprig of rosemary really gave the soup a lot of flavor and no extra chopping either! This soup is very tasty and chock-full of colorful, delicious little tibits, but there are a few things I would change. First of all, I didn't think it had enough beans, so I added an extra can. However, it turned out that there wasn't quite enough liquid after this addition, so I'd definitely add a bit more stock or water next time. And even though it only calls for one potato, I found the potato was a bit too plentiful so, in keeping with what I imagine minestrone to be, I'd use pasta in place of the potato next time. Adding pasta in place of the potato would also make this soup a good candidate for freezing.

I can't say as I noticed what the Parmesan rind added to the soup, but I like the idea of it and will try it in other soup recipes to see what it might add. The chard got a little too wilted for my tastes, so I would consider adding it later in the recipe next time. I also felt that adding the pancetta in with all the vegetables in the beginning caused everything to just steam and sweat, so I wonder if sauteeing the pancetta alone first, then adding the onion and garlic, followed by the celery and carrot would help render the fat a little more. Something to consider.

Now for the hard part.....which soup to make next? I think one of the cheddar beer soups is calling out my name and I know the guys in the family would certainly be up for it. Soup is a great thing to begin preparing early in the day and have ready on the stove for those evenings when we're rushing out the door for one activity or another, and with two older kids, that may well be just about EVERY night pretty soon.

With all the vegetables and beans in this one, it makes a great entry for Sweetnick's weekly blogging event ARF/5-A-Day which will be posted later on tonight.

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