Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Minestrone For Allergy Sufferers...

Strange that I'm making a hearty soup during the springtime. But while most people are outdoors enjoying the warmer weather, I'm stuck inside, battling seasonal allergies (just call me the 'bubble girl'). I was craving something warm, comforting, and soul-satisfying...and minestrone fit the bill. Chock-full of vegetables, beans and pasta, it would definitely satisfy my voracious appetite (could sneezing a thousand times a day be burning a ton of calories?)

Once upon a time I wouldn't have dreamed of making soup from scratch. Flashback to my 9 year old self... as a latchkey kid, I would often heat up a can of Campbell's chunky soup when I got home from school. On rainy weekends indoors, I watched cooking shows on PBS, scoffing at the chefs (notably Julia Child) who would go through the trouble of making soup from scratch. I wondered whether Julia knew about my beloved chunky soup in a can.

Obviously a lot has changed since then. I finally realized that you can't get that homemade slow- simmered taste from canned soup. So despite my itchy eyes, runny nose, and labored breathing, I happily peeled, diced, stirred, caramelized, and simmered ingredients for hours last night. And you know what? It was all worth it.


(adapted from Winter Minestrone, Gourmet Magazine Jan 2009)
printable version
Serves 4-6
Time required: 2 1/2 hours


2 oz chopped pancetta
1 1/2 red onions, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 15 oz can of Italian style diced tomatoes (w/ basil, garlic, oregano)
6 cups of low sodium chicken broth
1 lb of escarole, washed thoroughly and roughly chopped
1 15 oz can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 piece parmesan rind
8 oz (1/2 box) of ditalini pasta (or similar sized pasta)
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine pancetta, red onions, celery, and carrots in extra virgin olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Season with salt and black pepper. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in garlic. Continue to cook over medium heat for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables start to caramelize and stick to the bottom of the saucepan.

In the meantime, cook ditalini pasta according to instructions on the box. Drain and toss with some olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking together. Set aside.

Push softened vegetables to the side of the saucepan and add tomato paste. Cook for 3-4 minutes, letting tomato paste slightly caramelize (be careful not to let it burn). Stir tomato paste into vegetables and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add canned tomatoes and chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the saucepan. Bring to a boil, add in 1/2 of escarole and parmegianno reggiano rind and reduce to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.

Add remaining escarole and cannellini beans, cook for another 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding additional salt and pepper as needed. Remove parmesan rind. Stir in cooked ditalini right before serving.

Serve with a crusty piece of bread. Enjoy!

p.s. Looks like I'm not the only one making soup this week - for more springtime soup inspiration, check out Justin's
curried lentil soup at Justcook nyc.



Justin said...

seasonal allergies... not good. glad to hear this soup is helping.

Heavenly Housewife said...

I've never made soup from scratch. It seems so laborious, but I'm happy to hear it was worth it. It certainly looks beautiful. I sometimes think in soups things get cooked to death, buy you really retained some beautiful colour. Looks delish! Do hope u had it with crusty bread and butter daaaaaahling. Hubby always says a little butter adds sheen to one's complexion :D.
Fell better daaaaahling.
*Kisses* HH

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Yes it sure does look worth it. I don't even have allergies, but I'm craving your soup right now. Hope you feel better soon.

KennyT said...

Seasonal allergies again? Get well soon darling.

The minestrone looks very nutritious and yummy.

Jenn said...

Minestrone is definitely good. Luckily my allergies haven't been too bad...yet. Crossing fingers that it won't get worse. Hope your allergies subside soon.

Justin said...

p.s. i only just noticed the shout-out on this post. thanks!

Phyllis said...

Thanks for all your well wishes everyone, I feel better already :)

Justin: Nothing beats a bowl of soup when you're feeling under the weather. And you're welcome for the shout-out, I didn't think anyone else would be making soup and then I read your post!

Heavenly Housewife: I really just wanted to curl up in bed but I was crazy determined that night to make this soup. It helped that I cheated a bit with the canned tomatoes and beans. And yes, I ate it with a nice buttery piece of garlic bread!

Ciao Chow Linda: This soup is perfect anytime, even without allergies!

Kenny: You know how I am during pollen season! It was a toss up between making minestrone or congee, both require some patience, but I settled on the one with lots of veggies.

Jenn: Glad your allergies aren't too bad right now. Don't plan any trips to the Northeast during pollen season! My allergies didn't get bad till I moved here.

Mary said...

This is a lovely soup. I hope the allergy season is short for you. Your minestrone sounds delicious. Feel better soon. Blessings...Mary

doggybloggy said...

I spent most of last year allergic to everything- I know the feeling - this soup looks like a nice remedy.

Juliana said...

Wow, I love soup...and yours sure looks delicious, so hearty and comforting :-) Hope you feel better!

Anonymous said...

This soup is for us! We have lots of seasonal allergies right now and it sounds just perfect!

Phyllis said...

Mary: Thanks so much for dropping by :) Definitely praying for a short allergy season. And what delicious recipes you have on your blog!

doggybloggy: oh gosh, welcome to the club! I hope this year is a better one for you allergy-wise :)

Juliana: Thanks! I'm eating the leftovers tonight (tastes even better the next day)

5 Star Foodie: Wow, another allergy sufferer. I no longer feel so alone! In addition to soup, another natural remedy I use is a neti-pot (I never thought I'd pour water up my nose but it really works)