Friday, January 4, 2008

chopping theory and minestrone

there are different kinds of chopping for different mind sets. there is the meditative chopping, steady-paced and precise, sitting at the kitchen table with some music in the background. there is the animated chopping while talking to someone, with the knife being used as much for cutting as for wild gesticulation. and finally there is the aggressive chopping, hunched over the cutting bord, lips pressing together so that the carrots, were they not doomed to a mute existence, would scream with terror.

all kinds of chopping are good for making minestrone. it makes your appartment smell delicious and it tastes even better when reheated for lunch the next day.

wintery minestrone

3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 fat leek
2 stalks of celery
2 carrots
1 small rutabaga (alias swede)
1/2 butternut squash
3 handful french lentils
2 handful pearl barley
5 cups vegetable broth
2 handful frozen peas
2 handful fresh spinach
1 handful fresh parsley
feshly ground pepper
2 tbsp balsamico vinegar

heat the olive oil over medium to medium-high heat, add the thyme and start chopping the vegetables, adding them to the pot as you go and stirring from time to time. slice the leek lengthwise, wash it under cold water and slice it thinly, using the white and lighter green parts only. slice the celery stalks. scrub and chop the carrots. peel the rutabaga, half it and dice it. peel the butternut squash and dice it too. this is a rustic soup, so no need to obsess about the vegetable chopping--the important thing is that they are more or less the same size and on the smaller side.

Increase the heat to high and add the lentils and the barley to the vegetables, stirring them around until they start browning--about 3-5 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat until the lentils and the barley are tender.

Next throw in the peas and the stir in the spinach, roughly torn into smaller pieces. Simmer for 3 more minutes or so and then add the freshly chopped parsley. Season with pepper, salt and balsamico.

Eat from big bowls, and maybe a drizzle of olive oil. maybe even a little freshly grated parmesan on top. as for all soups, a hunk of crusty bread and butter on the side are absolutely essential.

this makes enough for four.

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