Tapping my Inner Squirrel (Again)

Cooling off and ready for the freezer

Cooling off and ready for the freezer

A "vat" of Minnestrone

A “vat” of Minnestrone

This time it’s soups for the winter.  I was faced with an abundance of crookneck yellow squash and tomatoes so I decided to make a sort of minnestrone, using my freshly harvested onions and garlic and adding some cannelloni beans and Italian sausage for protein.  While I was making soup, I also made some split pea soup (there is a good recipe for basic pea soup on the back of the bag of dried peas).  The only tedious part of the minnestrone is peeling the tomatoes, but two minutes in boiling water splits the skins and they slip off quite easily after the tomatoes are cooled off in cold water.  Both soups begin with olive oil and sliced onions which are sautéed slowly until they turn golden.  Add minced garlic next and saute that for about a minute, then add the protein if you want to use it.

Split pea with diced kielbasa

Split pea with diced kielbasa

Most split pea recipes call for ham bones but I hardly ever have one around so I added diced kielbasa, as I had one still in the freezer from last winter.  Cook the sausage until it loses its pink color.  Now the vegetables:  for the pea soup add diced carrots and celery and saute until they soften.  For the minnestrone, add the cut up squash and peeled tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes start to shed their juices.  At this point herbs and spices are added, thyme and basil for the minnestrone; thyme and bay leaf for the split pea.  I add hot red pepper flakes to both but they aren’t necessary if you don’t like a little “heat.” After the added vegetables have cooked, liquid is added, chicken broth and a cup of vermouth for the split pea and white wine for the minnestrone.  Finally add the dried peas to the split pea (no need to pre-soak) and the beans to the minnestrone (pasta can be added instead).  I used dried beans which I preboiled for a minute and let stand while I finished the other steps of the recipe but canned are fine.  Just be sure to rinse off the soaking water or the can liquid to lessen the effects of the beans.  Simmer until the dried peas are soft (about 45 minutes) and the tomatoes in the minnestrone break down.  Check to see if more salt is needed as there is usually quite a lot in sausage.  I got sixteen quarts of soup.  This will taste so good for lunch as we’re sitting in front of the wood stove on a howling winter day.  [Sorry about combining the instructions, hope it isn’t confusing]


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Marjorie said,

    Both soups look delicious and mouth-watering. I like your style that makes cooking seem simple. And, I truly enjoy the variety of topics of the blog. Best decision I made was to subscribe and not just check in just when I thought about it. I look forward to well-illustrated and informative posts about your interesting life outside in nature and in your kitchen.


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