I bet you have the makings of minestrone soup in your cabinets right now.
I did. So that is what I made recently on a fall evening.
“Big Soup” is a loose Italian translation to describe a soup that has lots of goodies in it like minestrone. The origin of minestrone soup (aka “Big Soup”) comes from Italy and is based on the idea of stretching or using up leftovers. A dish that is filling and inexpensive. I am sure that even a small survey of Italy would result in no two soups being exactly alike. And so just as in Italy where the soup is composed of lots of things, so was mine.
I started with bacon. Added onions and garlic. Diced potatoes, white navy beans and gluten-free pasta to make it hearty. A flavorful broth of tomatoes and chicken stock with a dash of my secret “flavor weapon” A1 Steak Sauce!
I happen to have some fresh herbs in the house so in went fresh basil and even fresher, some parsley at the end.
The recipe (makes a lot!- like 6-8 hearty servings)
1/2 lb thick cut bacon, cut into small bits
1 1/2 medium white onion diced
2 large cloves of garlic minced
3 small white potatoes diced
1 can ( 15.5 oz) white navy beans or whatever bean you like (rinsed)
1 can ( 14.5 oz) diced tomatoes or chopped or stewed or whatever you have
32 oz box of chicken stock/broth ( low sodium is best)
1/8 cup each chopped fresh basil and parsley
2 tablespoons A1 sauce
1-2 lemon wedges or 1/2 of a small lemon
Elbow noodles cooked to package directions – about a 1/4 cup ( measured dry) per serving
Render the bacon in a large heavy-bottom pot. Until it’s just crisping. Remove the bacon and set aside. Remove the bacon fat and set aside. Wipe out the tiny bits of bacon still floating around. (they will just burn later) The goal is not to scrub the pot bottom, but to just get the loose stuff floating with the last the fat. Add the onions and a bit of the reserved fat back in and cook for 3-5 mins on med until onions are getting color and softening. Add back in fat as needed to keep things going. Add the potatoes and a pinch each of salt and pepper, cook for another 3-5 mins. Add the minced garlic and cook a couple mins. Now deglaze pan with the tomatoes and stock, add beans and bacon. Turn heat down to low simmer and add the A1 sauce and fresh basil. Stir and cover. Let low simmer for about 30 mins until potatoes just tender. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Add a squeeze of lemon wedge if you have one on hand and along with fresh parsley. The lemon just “perks” things up and the parsley adds a bit of freshness.
Ladle over hot, just boiled elbow noodles and serve.
Production Notes: I like to boil the noodles separate so they don’t over cook sitting in soup. And since I never really bring the soup to a high enough boil to cook the noodles, it’s just better to cook them on the side. This way you can let the soup stay warm in the pot longer without mushy, swollen pasta.
This could easily be adapted to a slow-cooker recipe.