Wednesday, May 4, 2011
SPRING MINESTRONE SOUP
Minestrone is one of my favorite soups, and it is infinitely malleable with the seasons. This version celebrates springtime, when fresh, new vegetables begin to show up at the market. I know to make this soup whenever I can get asparagus, artichokes and peas all at the same time. These vegetables form the backbone to the soup.
Another good thing about this minestrone is that it takes only about an hour to make, from start to finish, including prep time. Classic minestrone takes at least a couple hours to make, and my own recipe for minestrone takes 8 hours. There's something to be said for a quick version.
Keep in mind that the ingredients below are a guide. Minestrone is supposed to be free-form, with whatever looks good at the produce market. Don't like artichoke hearts? Skip them. Despise chickpeas? Use some other bean. Just be sure to use lots of different kinds of vegetables and you'll be fine.
The other key to this recipe is to build the soup like a house. Don't toss everything in all at once, or some vegetables will be overcooked and some undercooked. This is why when you read my recipe below you will see that I add ingredients little by little.
Feel free to use canned or frozen vegetables in some cases. I use canned chickpeas and will often use frozen peas, which are almost as good as fresh. For a special occasion, use all fresh ingredients, though, as you can definitely taste the difference.