I handle periods of transition with the finesse of a baby tolerating a dirty diaper. Under the best circumstances, I squirm and make faces to reflect my discomfort. I may whine a little bit. Depending on the severity of the situation, I feel compelled to burst into tears. One would hope that my tolerance for change would increase with experience; this does not seem to be the case. Under my critical observation, my improvements seem to be occurring at a rate that does not allow for functional changes.
Currently, I am transitioning from the role of “life-long-student,” into the vastly unstructured environment of unemployment. There are some advantages to this situation: free time, free time, free time. There is also the dingy hope of an interview or better yet (gasp!) an actual job offer. There are also some co-occurring problems: the highly pronounced anxiety that barges in when you don’t get the interview/job offer. My coping strategy with these issues tends to involve falling back on comfortable, old routines, like cooking. Alas, yet another soup recipe was born.
Minestrone is a time-honored tradition in my family, although I sort of took it in my own direction. When I was little, I sort of dreaded it because of the presence of zucchini. I would avoid the zucchini, and eat everything else I could, until my mom inevitably required that I finish it. With a trembling hand, I would lift each spoonful of cold, neglected zucchini, and chew as quickly as possible to prevent gagging.
My “adult” palette has revised its opinion of zucchini, and I stand behind a firm recommendation of this soup. This is a fairly traditional recipe, except that I included a good portion of tomato paste to give the broth a deep color and flavor. I also cooked the pasta separately to prevent it from turning to mush, but this is matter of personal preference. Overall, the soup was warm and comforting. It had a round well-developed flavor from the garlic, herbs, and tomato paste. Plus, it goes nicely with my favorite condiment: freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I recommend the following progression: cook the soup; drink a beer, eat a of soup bowl; drink another beer while eating another bowl; be happy. But it’s just a suggestion (and please excuse the blurry photos).
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
¼ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 celery stalks, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 medium red skin potato, diced
6 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
2 small zucchinis, diced
Small cut pasta (cook separately)
Parmesan cheese for garnish
- Preheat a soup pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter.
- Once the butter melts, add onion, celery, carrot, and garlic. Season with hot pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables become soft and translucent.
- Add the tomato paste, stirring frequently for two minutes, until very fragrant.
- Add canned tomatoes, broth, chickpeas, potatoes, and remaining seasonings.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasonings. Add zucchini and cook for ten more minutes.
- Place cooked pasta in soup bowls and add soup. Garnish with parmesan.