Homemade Rustic Minestrone
Cold and flu season is not giving up.
Conspiracy theorists are blaming the government.
Sick people are sheepishly admitting they didn’t get a flu shot.
It’s a never ending cycle.
A friend of mine swears by making (and living on) garlic soup during the winter months. It’ll keep the bugs away. I’m a huge fan of garlic, but I just don’t think I want to eat plain garlic soup or garlic tea for three months out of the year.
A few months back, I was going through my grandmother’s recipe collection, organizing them the best I could (for a German woman, her recipes were very unorganized), and in the midst of all the chaos and scary German handwriting, she had what looked like a well-loved recipe for minestrone soup. The paper was all crinkled, and there were unidentifiable stains all over it. I pulled the recipe aside, typed up the recipe, since the original wasn’t very legible, and forgot all about it.
Then people started getting sick and went in search of a recipe to feed to the sick ones that still sounded appealing to me. Asked my husband for input: “chicken noodle,” he whined. “Borrrrriiinnng!” I wanted to say back to him, instead smiling and promptly began digging through my recipe collection—which I seriously need to thin out. All of my fellow recipe hoarders out there: how do you keep things managed and under control? I’ve got about a zillion recipes in my box and I am pretty sure I’ll only use about a quarter of them. Maybe I should start bundling them up and giving them away as a wedding or housewarming gifts.
Anyhow, back to my search for a soup recipe that will shut a sick person up. In the middle of a kitchen dance session (has anyone else been loving K. Flay lately?), I remembered my grandmother’s minestrone soup recipe and danced my way through the rest of the house in search of the recipe.
The base of the soup is simple: chicken (or vegetable) stock, water, potatoes, fresh thyme, and carrots. Eventually, you add some cannoli beans (aka butter beans), green beans, a zucchini or two, and spaghetti (or rice noodles for a gluten-free option), which isn’t all that fantastic in flavor. The magic comes from a paste/sauce you make and stir into the soup right at the end.
I say paste/sauce because it’s up to you how thick or think you’d like it to be. Loaded with basil and garlic, it’s just what the doctor ordered. And by doctor, I mean me, the person with zero medical training or education. I just know, or I’ve been told, that garlic is the perfect remedy for a crashing immune system.
If garlic alone isn’t enough there’s always wine, and for this somewhat rustic take on minestrone soup, I LOVE rhone blends. One of my favorite wines to pair with rustic soups is Rubystone from Ventana and at $16 is a steal considering Ventana recently closed their tasting room. Another one of my recent finds, is Morpheus from Kaleidos ($34), which is loaded with herbal flavors and notes—it really highlights the thyme used within the recipe.
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 cups fresh basil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 6 cups water
- 6, peeled and roughly chopped new potatoes
- 4, peeled and chopped carrots
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 large, roughly peeled and diced fresh zucchini
- 1 medium, peeled and diced yellow onion
- 1 cup butter or lima beans
- 1/4 cup, or as preferred spaghetti (or a gluten-free alternative such as rice noodles)
- 1/2 pound, cleaned and trimmed green beans