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Musings. Family. Food. Stories. Cooking. Recipes. Eating. A recipe journal. From simple Filipino dishes to challenging recipes and exciting gastronomical failures. This is for my girls to look back on for comfort, memories, laughs, love and lots of food!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Minestrone



This is a late post.  Lesson 4 from Kitchen 10 (a couple of weeks back).  Still all about stocks and soups and this is just one of them.

Winter is rightfully here and we all felt its wrath with the cold snap brought on the Tuesday that second week of June .  Layers and thick jackets, beanies, gloves and scarves were the order of the day.  The winter snap was biting and sharp, which leaves us with no choice but to embrace the winter season.  Year on and year off, it’s the same thing.  Mum (and dad) still dreading the cold snap.  Embrace the cold and warm up in the kitchen, I say!

Lesson 4 @ Kitchen 10 - Minestrone

It must be timing that Term 2 is all about soups, eh?  We learned 3 soup dishes from Lesson 4 plus 2 Sardinian dishes from the masterclass with Chef Giovanni Pilu of Pilu at Freshwater.  The timing is so good that I replicated the minestrone soup we learned on that Monday, at home.  Several times already, actually.


Minestrone is a really simple soup which I wouldn’t have ventured into on my own, because I thought it complicated.  But now I know, I can make it as long as there is white wine in the house.  Minestrone is Italian in origin and is actually a peasant dish.  There is really no set of main ingredients, according to Wikipedia, because this soup is made with whatever vegetables are in season.  And can even contain meat or meat broth.  The main ingredients of this soup are vegetables and pasta (any type of pasta will do) or rice.  However, I can’t imagine having rice in this tomato based dish.  The spaghetti pasta cut into 7cm lengths were just perfect.  But any other pasta shape would do.  The pasta in this instance, thickens the soup  and makes it a perfect pair with crusty sliced bread on a cold winter evening.

To make the minestrone (in class), we used, roughly cut (mirepoix in culinary terms):
Carrots
Celery
Leeks
Onions
Beans
Turnips

The onion, leeks, celery and carrots are sautéed in oil and butter combined, until golden.  
Tomato paste is added and stirred until the vegetables are thoroughly flavoured and coloured (the colours from here on, turn from golden brown to bright red/dark orange and the aromatics are released into familiar fumes that is so inviting, dad wanted to partake of the vegetables already at this point ).


This is then de-glazed with white wine and simmered until the wine has evaporated.  Water is then added just right to cove r the vegetables, and simmered for 5-10 minutes. (Wine when heated and used in cooking releases its alcohol and leaves a unique essence and subtle flavour to the dish.)

  
Tip: which I heard from random places from cooking shows to magazines, that you should never ever use wine that you would not drink.  Because if you don’t want to drink it, you wouldn’t want to eat it.  (More on cooking with wine found in http://whatscookingamerica.net/WineInCooking.htm)


 The beans and turnips are then added and stirred and simmered for another 2 minutes.  


Finally, pasta and added, bring to a boil and then simmer until pasta is cooked.

Serve topped with tomato concasse (diced tomatoes de-seeded and skin peeled off) and finely chopped basil (or parsley).


This is the best fail-safe kind of soup, as long as you have the basic flavours of the vegetables, tomato paste and white wine in there.  There are no possible ways this soup can be messed up.  it is a fool-proof,  glorious peasant dish soup. 


The recipe may look like a bit mishmashed in instructions, as mum was a bit flustered at the time we did this in class  with so much soups to do (including a cream of corn and basil soup, cream of mushroom soup and a beef consomme) and we still had to attend the Masterclass with Giovanni Pilu, which was of course, a must-see.   It takes a bit of discipline trying to remember all the processes and tips during class.  Must make sure to write it all down ASAP.  Following the recipe in the book doesn't always cut it.  Especially Chef S has more unique tips and tricks up his sleeves every lesson.

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