Dining In

Soup's On
By Nancy Finch, Food Columnist


Minestrone Soup

Many years ago an Irish family stayed in our house while we stayed in theirs in Ireland. When we met, after our exchanges, Dorothy asked if I was expecting a war. “Why?” I asked.

“Because of what your pantry looks like,” she replied.

Sure enough, I am inclined to keep a bountiful supply of canned goods on hand. I hate emergency runs to the grocery store for a missing ingredient and love the comfort of knowing I can put together a meal or many from my pantry’s contents.

In wintertime, those canned goods or freezer foods are plenty handy. We have always been able to make it through snow or ice storms with some pretty good meals. I think it is kind of fun to be creatively challenged when the elements  challenge trips to the store.

We have tried a soup that can be available on your pantry shelf, is tasty and fast. Minestrone from the Pantry requires five cans and some pasta. It serves six and is ready for the table in about 30 minutes or so.

Not so quickly put together but fancy enough for company, which is how we served it, is an adaptation of Portuguese Seafood Stew. Created by Ruth Spear in one of my favorite cookbooks, Cooking Fish and Shellfish, the stew, again, came out of cans and freezer. So, if you’re snowbound and have these ingredients on hand, you can easily throw a party for the neighbors. That is always fun when the roads are risky.

Portuguese Fish Stew

Ingredients:

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2 T olive oil

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1 lg. onion, chopped (about 1 1⁄2 c)

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2-3 garlic cloves, minced

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1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped, or comparable amount from frozen chopped pepper

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1 large carrot, sliced

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1 (28-oz.) can tomatoes, sliced

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1 cup beef stock 

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1⁄2 cup dry white wine

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1⁄2 t sugar

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Chopped fresh basil, to taste, or 1 t dried basil

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1⁄8 t cayenne pepper or to taste

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Salt and pepper, to taste

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2 lb. firm white fish fillets, fresh or frozen, skinned and cut into 1-inch pieces

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1 lb. shrimp, fresh or frozen, shelled

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1 recipe of rice with peas  (follows in directions)

Directions: Heat oil in large, deep saucepan. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent. Add the green pepper, carrot and tomatoes. Stir. Add the beef stock, wine, sugar, basil, cayenne, salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 15 minutes. (The recipe may be prepared ahead to this point.) Just before serving, bring the sauce to simmer and add the fish. Cover and cook over moderate heat until nearly cooked, about 5 to 8 minutes. Then add shrimp. Cook just until shrimp turn pink, about 4 minutes. Stir very gently once or twice. Serve in large soup bowls over the rice and peas. Serves 6. Rice with Peas: Bring 3 1⁄2 cups water to boil. Add 1 1⁄2 cups long-grain rice. Bring to a second boil. Cover. Lower heat and cook 15 minutes. If the rice is not still moist, add a half cup of water. Add 2 cups frozen French-type tiny peas. Cook, covered, 10 minutes. Season to taste.

Minestrone from the Pantry

Ingredients:

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1 T olive oil

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1 medium onion, chopped

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2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

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2 (14 1⁄2-oz.) cans reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth

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1 (15 1⁄2-oz.) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

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1 (15 1⁄2-oz.) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

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1 (14 1⁄2-oz.) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes

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1⁄2 cup uncooked small shell pasta

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1⁄2 t Italian seasoning

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1⁄2 t crushed red pepper

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Grated Parmesan cheese

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Fresh basil (optional)

Directions: In medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Cook and stir onion and garlic 3 to 4 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add broth, beans, tomatoes. Cook about 20 minutes. Add pasta and seasonings. Cook 10 more minutes or until pasta is done and beans have softened. When serving, sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and chopped fresh basil, if desired. Serves 6.

 

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