Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Minestrone Soup with Fregola

Schools out and I had my niece Ella over and she wanted to help out in the kitchen so I thought, why not make a soup? It involves a lot of chopping and slicing and a little sous chef is always welcome! I just used what I happened to have in my refrigerator which included some corn on the cob that I steamed in foil packets over the weekend. I took the kernels off the cobs and added it to the soup 10 minutes into the cooking, seeing as they were already cooked. But you can use fresh corn off the cob or frozen corn that is thawed, just add it along with the other vegetables.

Because I had the kids for lunch I added fregola (a small, Sardinian semolina pasta) to the minestrone. You can use orzo or any small pasta. Or you can make it totally pasta free, which I usually do but I have to say I totally LOVED it with the pastina! Reminds me of my childhood because my mother always added tubettini (small tubes) in the minestrone.

I also added a piece of parmesan rind to soup as it was cooking because it adds a lot of flavour and I always have some on hand in the refrigerator  I never throw them away! They are great to throw in soups. If you don't have any on hand, you can top the soup with grated parmesan when serving.

Minestrone Soup with Fregola

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 cup sliced pancetta or bacon
1 leek, white and light green part only, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
5-6 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
1 bunch of asparagus, chopped
3 corn on the cobs, kernels removed or 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
4 cups chicken broth + 2 cups if adding pasta
1 cup of fregola, orzo or any small pasta
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 piece of parmesan rind (optional)
Grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

In a Dutch oven, over medium/high heat, cook the pancetta or bacon in the olive oil until crispy. Add the leek and red onion and sauté until soft. Add the carrots, celery, zucchini, asparagus, corn and 4 cups of chicken broth if not adding pasta or 6 cups if adding pasta. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Bring up to a boil, add the fregola and the parmesan rind if using. Keep an eye on it, stirring frequently to make sure the fregola doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. It should take about 20 minutes for the pasta to cook. If not adding the pasta, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the torn basil leaves. Serve hot with grated parmesan cheese.

m xo

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