Sunday, August 31, 2014

Garden Fiesta-MInestrone Soup

Minestrone originally was a very humble dish and intended for everyday consumption, being filling and cheap, and would likely have been the main course of a meal.
Minestrone means ...."Big Soup" to Italians and means a soup with lots of goodies in it, especially pasta, beans and vegetables. The word however originated from Minestra, which means to dish up or serve. The Italians often eat a light soup as a first course, or a bigger soup as a light evening meal. The other interesting thing is that Italians often eat a hot soup on a hot day, as they find that it actually makes them feel cooler. 

Minestrone Soup
Cook's Notes: Reap the benefits of the summer harvest with a garden fiesta. Good minestrone soup captures the flavors of summer vegetables in a bowl. Advance planning adds to the ease of putting this soup together by cooking the Italian sausage and dicing carrots, celery, onion and mincing the garlic the day before. Place sausage, minced garlic and veggies in a covered container and refrigerate. 
Summer squash appears in many different shapes and colors. Three favorites include scallop or patty pan, and zucchini (green) and yellow zucchini.
This soup can be a vegetarian meal by omitting the sausage and substituting vegetable broth for chicken broth. 
  • 1/2 cup each carrots and celery, diced  
  • 1 small yellow sweet onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 TB. Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Tuscan Herb Olive Oil
  • 32. oz, box low-sodium chicken broth or low-sodium vegetable broth 
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage (a package of coleslaw mix works)
  • 2 cups cooked, crumbled Italian Sweet Sausage
  • 2 cups tomato juice or V-8 Juice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 can chunky tomatoes (basil, oregano. garlic)
  • 1 cup each zucchini or patty pan squash, cherry tomatoes (patted dry on paper towel)
  • 2 cups green beans, diced in half
  • 1 can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. each thyme, basil, parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. ground sage
  • 1-1/2 cups dried pasta (pasta shells or penne)
  • In a large soup pot or Dutch oven add olive oil. Saute celery onion, garlic and carrots until onions are tender-about 5 minutes.
  • Wipe any excess olive oil from pot.  Add to pot with the onion mixture; broth, chunky tomatoes, cabbage, tomato juice, water and spices.
  • Bring to boil from a low-medium heat, cover and simmer on low 15 minutes.
  • Stir in zucchini, green beans, kidney beans, cherry tomatoes and cooked sausage.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer for an hour covered.
  • Last 30 minutes of cooking time add dried pasta. 
  • Remove bay leaves before serving.
After 5 hours of driving and making multiple stops at different locations for The Arts of 84 Art Crawl it was quite a treat to return home for a bowl of minestrone soup. 

Labor Day weekend was the 7th Annual The Arts of 84 Art Crawl. It is a 31-mile art touring event held in various locations along State Highway 84, between Pine River and Longville. MN. 
Art’s Off 84 mission is to promote works of local artists and provide an art presence to the Pine River, Longville and surrounding areas. This juried event features high end art forms as well as quality handcrafted items.
Many of the locations were what I would call rural so you never know what you'll see. Take for instance these chickens running around at one location. In the back of photo there was a huge chicken coop. 
or these clever signs (like the old Burma Shave signs) which were meant to rhyme with each artist's venue at the location. Signs were placed along over a mile long walk to reach one location. Parking was at a premium.

This sign alerted the walkers a bathroom was nearby. Personally I thought the signs were meant to be a distraction to be read so walkers wouldn't mind the distance to reach the location. 

There was something for everyone to enjoy the creativity and imaginative art by local artists.

And last but certainly not least, lovely floral gardens.

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