Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cooking Simply for a weeknight dinner Guest.

We had a lovely dinner with a friend last night.  A couple of weeks ago we ran into her and her boyfriend at a local restaurant. My husband  and I had only known her casually through yoga, as some one you saw, recognized but did not speak to. The restaurant where we had our encounter was one that was dedicated to fresh, local, and sustainable food. This we thought was a sign. We loved food, they loved food, we loved yoga, they loved yoga, we are an American/Canadian couple, they are an American/Canadian couple, etc. So we made tentative plans for dinner. It turned out that he was leaving for a month and that she would be our only dinner guest this *time*. So we thought we would make it a simple affair (I am hoping that our screaming 3 yr olds who were in a form not seen since the days of Carol Anne in the movie Poltergeist last night did not scare her off).   

We (I cut and chopped, husband cooked) made a winter minestrone from Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food:Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution Here is the adapted recipe.

Winter Minestrone with Root vegetables and Cabbage

  • 1 1/2 cups cannellini beans with 1 cup cooking liquid
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lg finely chopped onion
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1tsp dried thyme or 5 sprigs fresh
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp salt plus more for seasoning
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 sm leek, diced
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, thinly cut, boiled in salt water until softened
  • 3/4 lbs bite-sized diced turnips
  • 1/2 lbs bite sized dice yellow potatoes
  • 1 cup cooked small pasta, such as confetti (optional)* I made my own from the left over dough I had by cutting in strips and then making tiny squares (optional. Alice Waters' recipe does not call for it) 
  • parsley leaves, grated parmesan cheese & olive oil for garnishing
In a large sauce pan or stock pot, heat olive oil, cook carrots, celery and onion until tender (sweating but not browning). 

Add in garlic, thyme, bay leaf and salt, cook another five mintues. Add water and when at a boil add leek, turnips and potatoes, cook for 15 minutes and taste for salt. 

If using, about 10 minutes from finish add dried pasta** (you may have to add some more liquid to make up for the absorption of the pasta). 

Add cooked beans (and fresh pasta** if you are using) plus bean liquid. Cook for 5 more minutes. If soup is thick add more bean liquid.

Remove bay leaf, serve in individual bowls and garnish with, parsley, grated parmesan cheese and drizzled olive oil.

** We used fresh homemade pasta, so we briefly cooked it separately to remove excess flour and added it in towards the end.

photos by me.


  1. This sounds wonderful! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Simple soups full of good stuff are both yummy and wonderful.




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