Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup
My first post for 2015! Happy new year everyone! I hope 2015 brings everyone loads of success, happiness and good health.
Last 2 months or so has being difficult for the family with us constantly battling ill health and bouts of recurring flu. This left us making many much required lifestyle changes, less socializing, taking it easy at work for a bit, eating out occasionally and staying put at home reading or watching favorite movies.
I was eating light most days and also did not bake much over the festive season. Soups and toasted bread with garlic butter was dinner most days.
 
My experiments with new recipes for smoothies and soups continued. One recipe which was well received was Minestrone Soup

My earliest memories of having this soup are at my home when mum doused leftover cooked macroni in the mixed vegetable soup she made for us. A successful attempt by her to feed my younger brother some veggies, the macroni got him excited and he found himself busy trying to find the pasta in bowl of vegetables.

 

There is no one fixed recipe when making minestrone soup. I usually make this with the ingredients readily available in my kitchen. Sometimes I add spinach or kale to bring some color to the soup but mostly it is from the vegetables listed in the recipe below:

 
Serves : 4 
Prep Time : 15 Minutes
Cooking Time : 30-35 Minutes
 
Ingredients
1 large white onion finely chopped
2 stalks celery finely chopped
2 carrots diced
4 tomatoes finely chopped
50 ml tomato paste (optional)
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil roughly chopped
1/2 cup green beans finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic butter
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup cooked pasta
5-6 cups vegetable stock
1/2 tsp lemon juice (optional)
3 tsp olive oil
Fine sea salt and crushed black pepper to taste
 
In a big pot, heat some oil and add garlic. Cook for a minute or so.
Vegies
 
Add onions, celery, carrots and french beans and cook them until they are soft.
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Add tomatoes to the mix and cook the mixture well.
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Follow this with cooked chickpeas, pasta and tomato paste.
 Minestrone Soup 4
Minestrone Soup 3
Add salt, black pepper and dried herbs and blend well. Add vegetable stock and allow the soup to simmer on low heat.
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I usually make vegetable stock at home else use some cubes of organic stock cubes from Waitrose. Meanwhile add fresh basil and garlic butter to the mix.
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Cook until the soup reaches the consistency your are after. This is usually after 15-20 minutes. Turn off heat and relish the goodness.
Minestrone Soup2
Serve this with Foccaccia or toasted bread with garlic or herb butter.  The soup is quite comforting and the chunky vegetables and pasta in there make it interesting with the crunchy texture of the bread.
Minestrone Soup1
In the month of January I intend to do a recap of the beautiful 2014 I had. Some events where I got to see my celeb chefs, cooked some new recipes which friends and family loved and also two of my articles got published in an e-magazine by Food Blogger’s Association of India.
I promise to share my food stories with you all shortly, until next time, happy cooking!
I definitely have a lot to do since I’d be hosting an Italian themed dinner party for my very close friend and his pretty wife tonight, wish me luck!

Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup

It’s getting cooler these days and what’s more comforting than a bowl of home made soup!

At my parents home, having soup before meals is quite the norm. My grandfather was so very fond of having soups! And my mom used to ensure she serves him a variety to choose from.

He loved every ounce of liquid from the vegetables which were just blanched or boiled. I remember him asking my mom to use the whey left from home made paneer to make dough for chapatis. Not wasting any nutrients from food was his mantra. He was also a great at recommending home made remedies and most of them worked. Yes! Even the weird ones worked much to our amusement.

I have loved tomato soup since childhood. It’s got to be my favorite soup to order when at a restaurant. My love of tomatoes is evident since most of my recipes have one in them!

He used to lovingly ask my mum or grandma to make this especially on days I was in low spirits. This is how dearly and selflessly he loved me. His first grandchild and perhaps the luckiest one who got to spend 27 glorious years under his wings.

Well this is turning out to be quite an emotional post. Let’s get on to the recipe of his favorite tomato soup.

I have modified a popular Sanjeev Kapoor recipe as shown in Khana Khazana to my family’s liking.

Cooking Time : 30 minutes

Ingredients
2 tsp canola oil
6 tomatoes roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 onion thinly sliced
1 carrot chopped
6 tomatoes chopped
700 ml water or more as required
1/2 tsp sugar
5-6 whole black peppercorns
Freshly cracked black pepper powder as per taste
Salt to taste
Full fat cream to drizzle (Optional)
Mint / Basil leaves for garnishing
Toasted Bread Croutons to Serve

In a big pot, heat the oil and add bay leaf, peppercorns and sautee it for a minute.

Add garlic cloves and cook them until the raw flavor goes away. Add onions, tomatoes and carrots and cook them they are soft but not mushy.

Tomato Soup 1

Add water and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes.

Take the mixture off heat and after cooling it for a while, strain the mixture. Reserve the stock on the side.

Veggies

Tomato Soup2

Now in a blender add the strained vegetables with a little water to facilitate smooth blending.

Tomato Soup3

Once the mixture has blended well and is at a consistency you like, pour the puree back in the sauce pot and let it simmer. You could add tomato paste at this point of time if you prefer to enhance the color.

Add salt and black pepper powder to taste, sugar and the stock set on the side and cook for another 10-12 minutes uncovered.

You can skip sugar from the recipe however I prefer adding the same since it helps to cut the sourness of the tomatoes.

Once the soup reaches the consistency you desire. Take it off heat and strain once more.

Serve with a drizzle of cooking cream and garnish with any herbs you prefer. Until next time happy cooking!