even on a cloudy day, there’s nothing quite like the alps.
i spent this past weekend following my husband and his coworkers around for a corporate training in a little village in germany, and then we all headed to another little village in austria to do some skiing. while waiting for the consultants to finish their training wasn’t particularly exciting, the little ski lodge nestled in the beautiful mountains more than made up for it.
i don’t ski. however, it’s impossible to resist riding up the lifts, simply to see the views that many of these people seem to take for granted – and, of course, to join the freezing skiers for the après-ski on the mountain after they finished the day. especially after being in new england for so many years, i wanted to spend as much time as possible near the mountains, in spite of how cold it was.
it got pretty cloudy by the time my fingers thawed enough to get my camera out, but i’m grateful that i got at least a few photos to remember the alps by.
also? four days eating nothing but deep fried meat, french fries, chicken cordon bleu, and beer really makes you grateful for winter vegetables. i plan on eating nothing but soup for the next week, and this is a delicious place to start.
my minestrone is thick and hearty, rich, and very filling. topping it with crunchy croutons and serving with crusty bread only makes it better. as always, feel free to play around with ingredients and amounts to get the proportions and flavors you like (for example, this really should have celery, but i’m at the mercy of the little market near our flat). and you may have noticed that basically every soup recipe i post contains bacon – i shouldn’t need to justify this, but i feel that any soup or stew benefits from this salty, fatty, delicious treat. don’t pretend you don’t agree.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3-4 slices bacon, chopped, or 100g unsmoked lardons
2 large carrots, chopped
1 large potato, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped or pressed
1 15 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 5 oz can tomato paste
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup red wine
1 cup water
1 cup chopped kale, spinach, or your favorite winter green
1 15 oz can cannelloni or kidney beans, drained2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1 cup shell or pipe rigate pasta, cooked
salt and pepper to taste
in a large, heavy stockpot, warm olive oil over medium heat and add onions and bacon, cooking for about 5 minutes until onions are starting to brown. add carrots, potato, zucchini, and garlic, and allow to cook for 2-3 more minutes.
add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken stock, and wine. if vegetables are not covered, add water. allow to come to a boil, increasing heat if necessary. reduce heat, partly cover with a lid, and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. add kale, drained beans, oregano, basil, salt and pepper, and allow to simmer for another 15 minutes.
when ready to serve, spoon several tablespoons of pasta into bowls and add soup. top with grated cheese and, if you like, crusty croutons – rip or cut several slices of bread into small chunks, and place in a bowl with salt, pepper, and several tablespoons of olive oil. use your hands to coat bread, then spread onto a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.
for best results, make this a day or two in advance. if you don’t have enough time to do this (or are like me and don’t plan meals out very far ahead), at least try to make this in the morning so that it can hang out all day. the longer it sits, the better it will taste – trust me.