Friday, March 22, 2013

Ina and Me

There are several TV shows James and I watch together but we each have a DVR list we watch while the other is away. I tend to fall asleep early while James stays up late. Most nights (or early early mornings) I lay in bed watching those saved shows while the rest of he world sleeps.
The other night I happened to watch an episode of Barefoot Contessa I had recorded by accident. Ins was making a hearty "winter minestrone." Given the rainy days and storehouse of last season's squash that seemed like a recipe worth keeping. She started with pancetta -- can't go wrong there. I added in Italian sausage I had in the freezer and browned everything together. Next BC sautes her vegetables in the same pot -- cubed butternuts squash, onions, carrots, celery, along with fresh garlic and thyme. Next goes in a large can of tomatoes, chicken stock, S&P, and a bay leaf (which I added earlier). The liquid is brought to a boil and left to simmer for 30 minutes. In Ina's recipe she uses spinach tossed into the hot liquid just a bit before serving. James and I prefer hearty kale so I added that with the liquid and let it simmer. Just like Ina I added beans and cooked pasta and to this point honestly it was like any other minestrone I ever made. Nothing too special. But then at the very end comes the lively touch that separates this recipe from everyday (and probably from any authentic Italian recipe). Just before ladling out bowls of the thick soup BC's recipe stirs in a couple TB of ready made (mine was homemade in the freezer) pesto sauce and about 1/2 cup of white wine.
I've never really thought too much about BC's recipes before. She has a fondness for mayonnaise I always found a bit overboard and most of her dishes seemed just a bit pedestrian. But his little touch not only enlivened this easy soup but is a trick I may steal for years of soups to come.

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