Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Warm Me Up

What better time for a bowl of Endless Summer Minestrone, courtesy of Rachael Ray?

The good news is, in spite of the name, you can still easily find what you need to make it.
And it's a perfect combination of warm soup and Summery nostalgia.

That's orzo pasta down in the bottom. Pasta that looks like rice.

The liquid base of the soup is nothing more than chicken broth (I dare you to try to find boxed organic chicken broth for $0.99!) and some white cooking wine.

After it all simmers together, throw some chopped scallions on top for a few minutes.

Then top with some parmasean and pesto. And unless you're Cory, throw a handful of cannellini beans on top. Actually, unless you're Cory or cooking for Cory, you can throw them into the pot while it cooks.

*Note: I made this pesto as directed in the recipe a few months ago and froze the excess. I thought it would be nice to drag some out on a miserable, cold day. I sort of thought I would make it a little further into the Winter, but what can you do? It froze spectacularly well. If you don't have it in you to make homemade pesto (super easy as long as you have a blender or food processor) just use the pre-made stuff in the refrigerated section at Meijer. I'm sure it would be a good stand-in, although I would recommend squeezing a lemon into it, because the lemony flavor adds a perfect punch of brightness. Sorry for the long note. Let's proceed...

Ta-da! Looks yum, huh? I always serve this with some hot, crustry bread. And if you're Cory you spread some of the pesto right onto the bread.

Oh, and one more thing, it makes excellent left-overs!

Here's the recipe, in full:

  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 2 small or 1 medium zucchini, finely chopped
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 pound green beans, cut into thirds (a generous handful)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cups chicken broth (32 ounces)
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (a couple of generous handfuls)
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup tarragon leaves
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 2 teaspoons grated peel and juice of 1 lemon
  • Crusty bread, for passing around the table

In a deep skillet or soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons EVOO, two turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the orzo and toast for 2 minutes. Add the zucchini, tomatoes and green beans; season with salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes are softened, 8-10 minutes. Add the wine and boil for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the scallions and cook until the orzo is al dente, about 3 minutes.

While the soup is working, in a food processor, puree the basil, cheese, parsley, tarragon, pine nuts, garlic, lemon peel and lemon juice. Scrape down the sides and then, with the motor running, pour in the remaining 1/3 cup EVOO. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a small bowl.

Divide the soup among four bowls and stir in some pesto. Serve with the bread.