Thursday, December 15, 2011

Meaty Minestrone with Beet Greens: It'll Cure What Ails Ye

Been in a funk.
Know what I mean?  I mean come hope so slap worn out that you eat Chinese take-out two nights in a row.  Not something you want to really pontificate about on your food blog, right?  It happens.

But, HARK!  Soup can help bring one out of the funkiest of funks, and it's good for warding off those nasty little snot viruses popping up from here to kingdom come.  So I made some, and so should you.
The good news?  This soup is so good for you and so easy.  The bad news?  I scarfed it down so eagerly that I forgot to take a picture.  Good thing there are leftovers I can show you later.

Here's a few good rules for cooking up soups and stirring your brew:

1.  Use your favorite big pot, preferably one that has a heavy bottom.
2.  When in doubt, a little booze makes it better.
3.  Always, always use a wooden spoon

I'm so serious about this.

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 links hot turkey italian sausage, removed from casing
2 quarts homemade turkey or chicken stock (or boxed if you don't have homemade stock)
1 large yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 bottle beer (lager or ale works great)
1 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 jar whole roasted red pepper/pimiento in its packing water, diced
1 can white beans
1 large can crushed canned tomatoes with basil
2 cups dried pasta noodles (small shapes like twists or elbows)
2 monstrous handfuls of chopped beet greens or baby spinach
2 tsp dried basil
2 bay leaves
3 tsp garlic seasoning blend (or just 2 tsp garlic powder if you don't have some sort of blend)
2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
black pepper to taste

In your large pot over medium heat, add olive oil.  Add onions and garlic.  Stir so they don't brown, but just start to become translucent.  Add your meat.  Drain grease after it cooks out a bit.  Keep stirring with that wooden spoon.  You can add mushrooms here if you wanna be like that.  Totally up to you.
Cook onion, garlic and meat mixture until you start to see a little browning starting to happen on the bottom of the pot.  This is where all the magic soup flavor comes from, so don't be scared to let this happen.  Once you've got a few little brown bits and smudges going on, you're going to need some help scraping up that stuff and incorporating it into the mix.  Enter beer.  It's so multi-talented, no?  Pour about a third of a beer in the mix, and use some elbow grease to get those bits up and into the mix while the beer cooks down.

Bad picture, good beer.

The alcohol will cook out and leave you with intensified yum flavor.  When the beer has reduced, stir in the can of tomatoes.  This will definitely stop all your browning and give you a minute to drain your beans and dice up the contents of that jar of pimiento.  I use the Goya brand because it's cheap, easy to find, and tasty.

Add in your pimiento and drained beans.  You should have some thick looking stew on your hands.  Good job!  Add cayenne, bay leaves, basil, and garlic seasoning.  If you don't have a seasoning blend you use, you really should try a few.  It can be such an amazing secret weapon in your soups, sauces, or whatever.  My weapon of choice comes from Costco in a giant container.  I don't think it can be beat.
Wait for it....

Wait for it...

It says "spread" on the bottle, but it's a powder.  I use it as a seasoning, but I'm sure if you make it into a spread it's bangin'.

Add your stock and your pasta and let it simmer until the pasta is tender.  Stir in your beet greens until they are wilted and well incorporated.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese and croutons if you must.  Bring some to your mom if she's sick.

This soup looks like a lot of ingredients, but it actually comes together pretty quickly and makes a heap of soup.  I'm sure it's even better the next day with a grilled cheese faithfully by its side.  I'll take one for the team and test this hypothesis for dinner.

So long funk!  Hello, cozy.

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1 comment:

JenMarie said...

I so love soup....