we go in a group, we tour in a troupe, we land in the soup

This minestrone has many, many good things going for it. You can make it up as you go along to suit what you’ve got (that’s what I did). It doesn’t cost much. It’s filling. It’s delicious. It’s vegan. It’s full o’ vitamins. It made me feel better about the increasingly forlorn group of parsnips in the fridge, it might have a similar effect on you. Depending on what you add to it, it can be as summery or as stodgily wintry as you like. And it takes hardly any of whatever effort you’ve got left at the end of the day.

Maybe it’s just me, and I realise being lacklustre isn’t the best way to push a recipe, but the one negative about this soup is…with all that good-for-you worthiness and vegetables-only content it’s not necessarily the most wildly exciting thing to be eating. If you’re up for it, some fresh, buttery scones would be fantastic alongside, or at the least some (also buttered) toast.
However while you wouldn’t think there’d be much to it (for example, because I told you) it’s delicious and sustaining and comforting and, as I said, pretty cheap too. All good things now, and indeed at any time. And while I love stirring chilli and spices into food, what could be seen as holding this soup back is also part of its charm – the simplicity of flavour. Much of it comes from the alchemy of stirring onions over heat and simmering the sweet, starchy parsnips and kumara. They lift it from being a bowl of aimlessly boiled vegetables into something pretty superb.
Undemanding Minestrone
Use whatever related vegetables you have: a combination of leeks, other kumara varieties, potato, frozen peas as well as canned beans/chickpeas/lentils would all work here.
1 onion
4 spindly or 1 fat parsnip
1-2 zucchini
1/2 a big orange kumara
Handful of small pasta like risoni or the bashed up remains of a packet of pasta or a few tablespoons long grain white rice.
Olive oil, salt and pepper. If you don’t have olive oil, use butter instead.

Slice the onion up thin. Heat the oil in a wide pan, and stir the onion slices in it over a gentle till properly cooked and browned slightly but not blackened. Grind in some salt. Chop all the rest of your vegetables into small chunks, add them to the hot pan and stir for about five minutes till they’ve started to become tender and have gained some colour.

Pour over enough water to come an inch above the vegetables, bring to a good bubbling simmer and tip in the pasta (or rice). Allow to simmer gently for another ten minutes or so, until the pasta is cooked through.
At this point you can leave it covered until you need to reheat and eat it – if this is any longer than a couple of hours then put it in the fridge.
As I said, one of the cool things about this minestrone is that you can add what you like to it depending on what you have. Its simplicity is great, but don’t let that stop you. Tomatoes. Canned beans. Finely chopped cabbage. Barley. Carrots. Pesto. Chilli sauce. Whatever you’ve got, this minestrone can probably accommodate it. It’s magic as is though, the pasta grains swelling up and absorbing the liquid flavoured by its vegetable inhabitants, the sweetness of the starchier ingredients stared down by the bolder onion and zucchini.
Meals like this are our thing at the moment. I’m away this weekend and next weekend for work and then the weekend after that, Tim and I take off on our Massive Exciting Overseas Trip so as well as wanting to eat things that don’t cost much, it’s good to get through whatever’s in the fridge. That said, I did run into Millie Mirepoix at the supermarket today and was convinced (okay, convinced myself, but she was an enabler) to buy a couple of gorgeous, perfumed quinces, which will need some fairy immediate attention.
I haven’t even thought that much about what I’ll do with this blog while I’m away – I think I’ll try to get a post done as close to our leaving time as possible and then just leave it as is, hoping for the best that you’ll all be there when I get back. As Christine Ebersole as Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale in Grey Gardens said, “when violets return in Spring, will you?” I’m not sure it’s all that relevant really considering New Zealand’ll be heading towards winter come April, but this song makes me buckle at the knees with its beauty and I just like a chance to link to it semi-gratuitously.
Title via: Together, Wherever from the always quotable, always listenable Gypsy, a musical I would really love to see for real one day, till then making do with a couple of different cast recordings and my DVD of Bette Midler’s made for TV movie version of it. I also found this amazing clip of Liza and Judy singing an abridged version of this song…I love you youtube.

Music lately

Till Tomorrow by David Dallas, I love this new video of his by Special Problems with its constantly moving, animated wandering hotdog and mustachioed donut visuals. Plus the bouncing, offbeat rhyming calling to mind, in a really good way, Can I Kick It?

Thunder On The Mountain by Wanda Jackson. Another of her tracks that sound both fresh and ancient, with a fast beat, full-on horns, and Jackson’s deliciously roguish voice.
Next time: either way probably something in a jar because I’ve still got to make that mango chutney, plus I’m halfway through making this recipe for dried fig and rhubarb jam from my Aunt Daisy cookbook.

9 thoughts on “we go in a group, we tour in a troupe, we land in the soup

  1. Kay says:

    What? You won't be blogging about your overseas trip on location? Not even reviews of eating establishments around Europe/L.A./U/K? Now that you've got us all excited about it you can't just leave us not knowing what's happening while you are there.


  2. Hannah says:

    Sometimes a simple, warming, thick soup is just what a long day calls for 🙂 I wish I'd made something like this tonight instead of eating four muffins spread with sunflower butter for dinner…


  3. Anonymous says:

    Laura, you are joking aren't you? No posting? How will we have our overseas trip through your eyes? I was thinking of all the foodie places, sights and smells you would be experiencing!!!! I can't hold my breath for all that time.
    Just so excited for you. How many more sleeps?
    love and hugs, Nana


  4. hungryandfrozen says:

    Mum: Yeah nah…I thought about it, but this is a recipe blog, not a review blog…however I might try to do a quick post from overseas at some point. Also might have to set up another random blog for updates. We're only going for four weeks, it's hard to know if I'll have time to be writing all the time about what we've been doing…that's something I'll have to work out soon though 🙂

    Hannah: If we'd combined our two dinners though, that would've been amazing!

    Nana: Aww, thanks for the lovely comment! As I said to Mum, might try to set up another quick travel blog a bit like Viv's ones…not long now – we leave on the 25th!! XXX


  5. Anonymous says:

    Soup is great for a wintry dinner, but even better for a wintery lunch. I enjoy making everyone at work jealous of my home made lunch. Mwahahaha!


  6. Anonymous says:

    Nice to bump into you yesterday, must count for something that I always see you guys at Moore Wilson's! And I'm happy to be an enabler if it's for quinces 🙂

    Btw that soup does look exciting! I've had dessert for dinner 2 nights in a row (seriously need to get back onto a normal eating plan) so anything brothy with lots of veg is so appealing to me right now.


  7. Mel says:

    Yum, that looks very good!

    And it is VERY exciting that your travels are just around the corner… I do hope you slip in a quick post or two while you are away 🙂

    I *cannot* wait to get to Moore Wilsons!


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