Family Matters: Celebrate National Soup Month with a bowl of minestrone

 

JENNIFER FLANDERS, Family Matters

Since January is National Soup Month, I couldn’t let it pass without sharing a recipe for the heartiest and most delicious minestrone I’ve ever tasted. A dear friend gave me this recipe nearly twenty years ago, and it has been a family favorite ever since.

It’s especially good on cold winter nights. Of course, we don’t get many of those in Texas – I saw a meme recently that boasted, “I survived a Texas winter: January 6-8, 2017.” That may be understating the situation just a little, but certainly not by much.

Fortunately, my kids are every bit as content to savor this soup in the middle of the summer during evening picnics at the neighborhood pool as they are on blustery days in January in front of a crackling fire. The recipe is fast, easy, tasty and filling, no matter what the weather.

Ingredients:

1 pound of beef smoked sausage; 1 onion; minced garlic; 3 to 4 zucchini; 3 to 4 carrots; 1 head of green cabbage, shredded; 8 to 10 cups of beef stock (or water with bouillon); 1 can of diced tomatoes; 1 can of great northern beans; 2 tsp. of Italian seasoning; salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions:

Dice the onion coarsely. Slice the sausage into very thin pieces. (I sometimes use a food processor for this step) Sauté with onion until the onion is transparent. Add minced garlic, sliced zucchini and sliced carrots. Shred or chop cabbage finely, then add that to the mixture.

Sauté a few minutes longer, then add enough beef stock to cover all the vegetables (about 8 cups) and bring the entire mixture to a boil. Add seasonings and tomatoes, reduce heat and simmer for at least one hour. I usually put this soup on to cook during morning recess, then let it simmer while I read aloud to the children. Two chapters later, I add the great northern beans (final step) and dish it into bowls.

Full of healthful vegetables and clear broth, this minestrone recipe has a wonderful flavor our family loves. It is easily doubled for a crowd, and leftovers can be frozen to use later. Warm it up in a crock-pot the second time around and serve with a loaf of freshly baked French bread or a package of whole grain crackers for a truly fuss-free meal.

Jennifer Flanders is a big fan of soup and doesn’t really need a national holiday to convince her to eat it. You can find more of her recipes at www.flandersfmily.info/web/cook-at-home.

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