Modern life makes us forget about the traditional recipes and turn more to the fast ones, which we can make from a powder. Nowadays, we can take a bag of instant soup, boil a cup of water, put the powder from the bag in it and, voila, the soup is ready!
I have to admit that some of those soups are delicious, yet how many of them contain real vegetables and meat? Just read the ingredients on the back of the bag and you'll see! I'm also using those powder soups, especially when I'm too tired to cook or in a hurry - or during summer, when it's too hot to cook for long hours.
This shouldn't happen at all, if I really want my family to eat well and be healthy. Those E substances which they are using in everything, are really dangerous. No wonder so many people are getting sick and die of cancer or other scary disease!
I usually have all the vegetables in the refrigerator or in my pantry - some in the freezer, as well. I always have carrots, celery, onions and sweet pepper, which I'm using for every soup I cook. Not to mention the homemade tomato juice I have in my pantry, made from the tomatoes I picked up from my garden. Also from my garden, I have squash, green peas and green beans, cauliflower or pumpkin in the freezer - all washed, peeled and chopped. I'm always freezing all the vegetables I don't use fresh because my garden is so productive. Last summer I had many squash and lots of green peas, but the summer before it was the green beans having a record crop. We ate them fresh, but how many green beans or squash could we eat? By the end of the summer, we've had enough of each of those vegetables. That's why I froze most of them in plastic bags, for the winter.
Minestrone is a soup which contains almost all of the veggies, that's why is so delicious. Carrots, onions, sweet peppers, celery root, pumpkin, squash, green peas, green beans, tomatoes, corn, mushrooms, cabbage, potatoes and even cucumbers are some of the vegetables which minestrone contains. I can use all of those or less - or more - the soup will be delicious anyway, because of so many tasty vegetables.
We have a similar meal in Romania, but it is a casserole hotchpotch, not a soup. The Italian minestrone is also thick, but it has enough liquid to be called soup. On the contrary, our hotchpotch is thicker and has no liquid.
When I first found out about minestrone, I was really impressed and wanted to cook one right away. The taste blew me away, that's how delicious it was! I cook both our hotchpotch and minestrone in turns, because ours is delicious too and we crave for it, from time to time.
When I make minestrone, a must have are a few basil leaves for this Italian soup. Olive oil is needed too, also a few garlic cloves and a few noodles, to thicken the soup. I also like to make it a bit sour, by adding a cup of our "borsch", but lemon juice will also give it a good taste.
If I don't have my own vegetables, I can buy a frozen minestrone vegetable mix from the superstore. This is very useful, because it contains almost all ingredients.
Ingredients for 10-12 serves
- 1 onion
- 1 small celery root (as small as the onion)
- 1 big carrot
- 1 sweet pepper
- 1 parsley root
- 1/2 cup of green peas
- 1/2 cup of green beans
- 1/2 cup of dry beans, already cooked
- 1 small squash
- 1 slice cabbage
- 1 cucumber
- a few small cubes of pumpkin
- 2 potatoes
- 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
- 5 big tomatoes or 1 cup tomato juice
- 1/2 cup dry thin noodles
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2-3 basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup borsch or juice of half a lemon
If the vegetables are fresh, I have to work harder, to peel and wash each of them. Modern life takes so much time from us, that we'd prefer to have nice, delicious and already cooked food on our table - and perfectly warmed up, if possible! I know all of it because I've been through all phases of a lifetime, from being a young mom with two small kids, then having to work and running from kindergarten to work and back, to being a housewife, with plenty of time - because the kids were already grown-ups - then having a job again, while living in the suburbs. I know how it is to be so busy and tired that you could just skip dinner or just grab a sandwich and run. But I've always wanted the best for my family - and for myself too, for that matter, because I'm very important for them and I know it. We need to be healthy, that's why fresh vegetables and home cooked food have always been a priority for me and my husband. Although, when we got married, I was a spoiled brat, who didn't know much about cooking - except for French fries - I've come to discover that I enjoy cooking and wish to learn more everyday. That was important, because - thanks to my passion for cooking - I've been able to cook for my family for all of my life. I am proud of it and I believe that, the fact that we are all healthy and don't suffer of any disease - except of some understandable overweight - is partially due to my cooking.
That's why I've never gave up cooking, no matter how hard it was for me to keep up. Moreover, ever since we moved in to the countryside, I'm growing my own vegetables in my garden, even though I'm still having a job. But my family's health is still my number one priority, that's why I need to have as many fresh vegetables as I can get. There is no bigger pleasure than picking up the green beans or green peas pods from the garden and cooking them right away! Having so many vegetables in my garden, I can cook any meal I want, especially those for which I need many vegetables, such as the minestrone soup. This is a soup which I can cook both in the winter and in the summer - or any other season, whatsoever - but I prefer it in the winter, because that's when we need more vitamins from all those vegetables and a soup to warm us up.
I usually start with the onion and the roots (carrot, celery and parsley), which need longer cooking. I peel each of them and slice them all in my food processor.
I put the pot on the stove, on low fire, add three or four tablespoons of olive oil and add the sliced vegetables. Let them simmer, while I peel the other vegetables, but I don't forget to stir every few minutes. I keep the pot covered with a lid.
I take the green peas out of their pods, wash the beans and cut their ends, then cut them in small parts. Then I peel the potatoes, the squash and the pumpkin (if needed). Wash all up, including the cabbage, then I cut a slice from the whole cabbage head.
I chop the cabbage and pumpkin into small cubes, then add it into the pot. I'm also adding the green peas and green beans.
I add a quart of water and turn the soup to boil. Meanwhile, if the mushrooms are raw, I'm washing them very well with cold water, by rubbing each piece with my fingers, to clean the soil or straw - if there is any. Then slice them all and put them into the pot.
I'm also adding the potatoes and cucumber, cut in cubes. I'm keeping the squash aside, until all other vegetables are cooked. I'll add it to the soup in the last 10 minutes, because it cooks faster than all other vegetables.
I'm adding about a teaspoon of salt, and water, so that all veggies are at least 2 fingers under liquid, then turn to boil on strong fire. When boiling, I'm covering the pot with a lid and lower the fire to small. Let the minestrone soup simmer for one hour.
Ten minutes before the hour ends, I cut the squash in small cubes and add it to the soup. Let it cook for 10 minutes, also at low fire.
I'm checking the carrots, potatoes and pumpkin, by sticking a fork into a random cube. If they are tender, I can add the tomato juice and borsch. Turn the heat to strong fire, until it boils.
Lemon juice should be added only after turning off the heat, otherwise it loses all vitamin C.
Meanwhile, I'm peeling the garlic cloves, then smash them with the special garlic press and add directly into the soup pot.
I turn off the fire and add the thin noodles. They don't need special cooking time, because they are so thin that they will cook into the hot soup. I'm also adding chopped basil leaves.
Ten minutes later,the soup is ready to be served.