Friday, September 23, 2011

Happiness is a warm bowl of minestrone

Technically, I broke in my newest kitchen toy, a beautiful 6 quart Staub enameled cast iron pot, with the no-knead bread. But since that loaf turned out much more like a rock than expected, I will erase that from the official records and say instead that this absolutely wonderful soup is the Staub's first food product .

Why on earth does it matter what I cook as a first meal in this thing? Well, it matters, because I had been deliberating on this rather large purchase for what seems like forever. Ever since I read about it on my very favorite food blog quite a few years ago I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. Le Creuset or Lodge or any other brand aside, I knew that I could have no other.

But now that I have it in my kitchen, I honestly can't figure out why it took me so long to get it. Having a really big heavy pot ROCKS. I can keep adding random stuff from my freezer in it and IT WON'T OVERFLOW. As an added bonus, the heavy material allows the contents to heat evenly and I don't have to continuously stir the contents until my arms falls off. And now that it's officially autumn, I can make as much soup as my heart desires and not worry about having to leave the stove on for hours, which is the time required to cook almost anything in this magnificent beast.

I recently discovered the cookbook section of the DC public library and have been eagerly checking out new cookbooks ever since. The only problem with this system is that lugging big cookbooks such as the NYT one from the library to my apartment is pretty hard work. That's why I ended up taking the light and carry-able New Moosewood Cookbook with me. Almost all of the recipes in this book are simple but delicious sounding vegetarian dishes.

I was looking for a good, hearty soup, and this recipe is definitely it. I think many sub-par minestrone tend to taste too much like canned tomato sauce, but the fresh tomato in this recipe solves that problem without sacrificing tomato flavor. The original recipe also called for celery and eggplant but I didn't have them on hand at the time. Lastly, I un-vegetarianed this recipe by adding a cup of chicken stock and some chicken tenders, both of which can be easily omitted.