Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Minestrone to Sooth the Soul


I've never been one to stop eating when I’m under stress. In fact, I’m just the opposite. The more stress I feel, the more I want to eat. The only time I loose my appetite is when I’m sick, and I make up for the food I missed once it all starts to taste “right” again.

Then my husband died.

For the first time in my life, I didn't feel hunger. Didn't feel it at all! The only clue I had that I might be hungry was when Mom would say, “Linda, you need to eat something,” and when I did, I felt a bit better. I remember thinking, “Hum, I must have been hungry.”

Normally I decide what to eat by asking myself, “What are you hungry for today?” In those early days after The Picky Eater was gone, the answer was, “Nothing.” Actually, I didn't even ask the question. The only thing I remember eating that tasted somewhat enjoyable was Chinese food with Mom at a restaurant one evening, plus a donut from the box my neighbor, Jan, brought me. That was it. I know I ate more, but I don't remember what.

After about a week passed, I was looking through my freezer and saw a bag of diced zucchini from last
summer. That was when I experienced my first craving—for minestrone soup. In spite of it being summertime, minestrone fits the season for me since I like it made with lots of zucchini and summer squash.

I mixed up a big batch of the soup in the slow cooker and ate it every day for a week—sometimes twice a day. Each bowl, with Parmigiano Reggiano grated liberally over the top, not only gave me the nutrition I needed, but it also brought me a sense of comfort as I began my new “normal” life. It is soup to sooth the soul.

Minestrone Soup

Makes a lot! I ate a bowl or two every day for a week and still had enough for two containers in the freezer.

1 medium onion
2 ribs of celery, diced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
1 summer squash, cut in large dice
2 zucchinis, cut in large dice
2 cup shredded kale
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 15-ounce cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 15-ounce cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning (I use McCormick.)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup uncooked ditalini pasta
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for garnish

In a skillet over medium heat, saute the onion and celery until the onion is translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and transfer the onion/celery/garlic mixture into a slow cooker.

Add the remaining ingredients, except for the ditalini and Parmigiano Reggiano. Cover and cook on low for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, or until the carrots and other vegetables become just soft. The kale will always be a bit chewy. If you don’t like this, just omit it or choose a different greens variety, such as Swiss chard. If the tomatoes and broth don’t give you enough liquid in the pot, just add more broth or water.

Towards the end of the cooking time, heat a large saucepan filled with water to a boil. Add salt to the water, and then boil the ditalini until it is just al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the soup in the slow cooker. Let the soup continue to cook for another 30 minutes.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and liberally grate Parmigiano Reggiano over the top.




4 comments:

Emma | Fork and Good said...

It's so strange that you should post this, as minestrone is my comfort soup. When a childhood friend ours passed last year, all we ate was minestrone soup and crusty bread. I am a big believer in soup being a like a big hug.

Thank you for your recipe, it looks gorgeous.

Susan Lindquist said...

It is, INDEED, a soup to sooth the soul ... and I'm glad that you came upon the inspiration to make it. A step in the process of healing and moving forward - one step at a time - slowly and at the pace that's right for you! So nice to see you writing again ... and cooking, my dear! I am still thinking of you daily!

~~louise~~ said...

Hi Linda,

I too am glad to "see" you writing and cooking again.

When my husband passed suddenly I thought I would never eat again. People would say, "you need to eat" I never could figure out why though. I lost my voice and my appetite but eventually they both returned. Soup was the first thing I ate too. There is just something soothing and comforting about a bowl of soup. Minestrone is the perfect soup to soothe the soul and the fact that it's made in the crock is a very good thing too:)

Thank you so much for sharing, Linda...

Catherine said...

Dear Linda,

Soup does sooth the soul and bring comfort. It is also easy to eat.
Minestrone will give you the nourishment, taste and comfort and the cheese is always delicious on top.
I am keeping you in my prayers.
Blessings dear. Catherine xo