Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bacon for Hanukah

Last night I made the Winter Minestrone Soup from the January 2009 Gourmet (just arrived at my house; wanted to use "just over the transom" like KGS just did in a facebook post; sounds so publisher-y, and, indeed, her 'blog looks quite like a newspaper at the moment; but we ain't got no transoms).

I made a few alterations to the recipe, to suit what was in my fridge, and what I could buy on the way home by bus, and foot, since we are still in the grip of the snowiest December in living memory here in Madison WI.

So I left out the chard - Trader Joe's didn't have it, and it's my least favorite green, anyhow - in fact the recipe called for 3 kinds of greens: chard, escarole & Savoy cabbage, and although I am fond of both escarole and Savoy cabbage, my veggie box came with regular green cabbage, so I used that and the frozen spinach that Trader Joe's provided. No Cannelini beans either, so I used pinto - I figured the texture was the most similar to Cannelini; the red kidney beans have tougher skins.

The recipe touts its soffrito method - the Italian way of cooking the foundation vegetables, usually onions and garlic, maybe carrots & celery, for a long time slowly with pepper and salt in oil - as the key to building the flavor of the soup. They said to cook for 45 minutes; I had to go and write what I hope was a comforting and elucidating email message to a student upset about their grade, and that only took about 20 minutes - but I think my soffrito was plenty soft and tasty.

I used about 2 TBLS olive oil, rather than the 1/3 cup called for.

We ate our soup with Anellini (pasta rings or Spaghetti O's) rather than the Ditali, short tubes or little drums shown in the picture, traditionally used in soups, but that's just window dressing.

And, although the recipe called for panacetta, Italian unsmoked bacon, I had plenty of American smoked bacon, so I used that - causing Mark to remark, when he smelled the soup, and saw the Menorah set up next to the stove, "Bacon for Hanukah - nice."

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