Meaty Minestrone

Oct 20th
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I love weekend afternoon cooking. Rich is home to entertain Tess and Leo naps; I listen to my perfected Jack Johnson Pandora station (heavy on the Joshua Radin, Gavin DeGraw and Ingrid Michaelson) and cook. Sometimes it’s for friends coming over or bringing a dessert somewhere but usually it’s just for the week ahead. Typically¬†it’s the regulars like pecan pie bars, double chocolate zucchini muffins, baked brown rice, or poached chicken. I’ll throw a bunch of sweet potatoes in the oven with a spaghetti squash then refrigerate until needed. Even though it’s monotonous I still truly enjoy it. Using up what I’ve bought or what’s in season at the market gives me a sense of accomplishment.¬†My husband thinks up football plays when his mind wanders during a sermon; for me, it’s recipes. I’d thawed ground beef and knew my pantry was well stocked, so by the time I got home from church I was ready to go. I didn’t know what sort of soup it would be, I just went along, employing tactics I’ve used in past recipes like melting down some anchovies to start things off or cooking the tomato paste to deepen it’s flavor. I paused to write down what I added, and when, and I’m so thankful I did because I think this is the best soup I’ve had in a long time. I needed help naming it and Denise, my new sister in law, came to the rescue with Meaty Minestrone. It’s rich from the meat with tons of umami flavor from the anchovies and the vinegar. Honestly, I just loved this soup.

A few options. Not sure about the anchovies? I assure you this soup doesn’t taste like fish. They’re easy to find, inexpensive and worth it for the flavor boost. Buy anchovies packed in oil and throw the remaining fish in a bag in your freezer. It will keep until next time you make the soup. No parmesan rind? Just skip it. I keep rinds in my freezer from cheese we’ve used up, and it just helps the overall flavor profile. Stir 1/4 c. cheese into your soup at the end, before serving. Everything else is basic enough. I hope you make this soon, one of these cool fall days; I promise you won’t regret it.

Meaty Minestrone

Serves 6-8

1 1/3 lb. ground beef

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided

1/4 tsp. black pepper

2 anchovies

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

4 carrots, peeled and diced

1 large onion (or two smaller), diced

1/4 c. tomato paste

2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes

6 c. chicken broth

4 inch parmesan rind

1 (15 oz) can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

6 oz. fresh baby spinach

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1/4 c. finely chopped parsley

Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

1. Saute beef in a large soup pan or dutch oven, breaking up clumps, until browned. Add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper and stir to combine. Remove beef to a smaller bowl but don’t clean out pot.

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2. Add anchovies, garlic, oregano, crushed red pepper, and remaining 1 tsp. salt. Stir until fragrant and mash anchovies until dispersed into mixture, about 30 seconds.

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3. Add carrots and onion and saute about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.

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4. Add paste and stir frequently, about 1 minute.

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5. Add diced tomatoes and their juice along, chicken broth, and parmesan rind. Turn heat to high until mixture boils then reduce heat to simmer; cook about 5 minutes.

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6. Add beans, spinach, reserved beef, and vinegar. Stir to combine.

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7. Remove from heat and add parsley. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

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