In the winter, I cook the most. Last weekend, we had the craziest February storm in Pennsylvania. Usually this time of year, snow is on the ground. But Saturday we had an afternoon of tornado warnings, severe thunderstorm warnings, sheets of rain that made a stream in our backyard and hail to boot! On top of that, our heat pump stopped working. When the cold front moved in, we fortunately could use our emergency heating back up.
One of my ways to handle stress is to cook. So I decided a batch of Minestrone Soup was just the food we needed for comfort and to have leftovers. My sleuth Caprice likes to cook too. She often makes this soup that is her Nana's recipe. It appeared in the first book in my cozy mystery series, STAGED TO DEATH, along with other recipes.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Nana's Minestrone Soup
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 cup medium pasta shells
1 cup onion (medium), chopped
1 clove of garlic, grated
1 teaspoon salt (Salt to taste, depending on the type of broth you use)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
A pinch to 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cans diced tomatoes with juice (14–16 oz. each)
1 cup tomato juice
1 quart chicken broth
1 quart beef stock (If using your own, make sure it's full-bodied. You can add bouillon cubes to make it richer.)
1/2 – 1 lb fresh endive or escarole, snipped or cut into 1/2 inch pieces (leafy green part only)
1 can Great Northern beans (drained)
1 cup celery
1 cup shredded carrots (I buy this way)
1 cup shredded cabbage (I buy cole slaw mixture)
1 cup sliced zucchini
1 cup cut green beans (fresh or frozen)
1 bay leaf
Romano cheese to sprinkle on top
Brown ground beef on medium in olive oil in 8 quart soup pot. When browned (no pink remaining), add chopped onion, grated garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper. Stir for a minute to mix flavors. Add tomato juice, tomatoes, salt and stir. Add beef stock and chicken broth, then bring to a boil. Stir in Northern beans, celery, carrots, zucchini, cabbage and green beans. (If using frozen green beans, bring soup to a boil again before adding endive.) Add endive last.
Bring soup to a boil again, add bay leaf, then simmer covered on low for 30 minutes. Bring to a boil again, remove bay leaf, add pasta, stir once more and cook until pasta is the way you like it, usually 10–12 minutes, without lid. Stir a few times while pasta is cooking. Sprinkle each serving with Romano cheese and serve with crusty bread. Makes 12-15 servings.