Monday, November 30, 2009


Minestrone is ALL about "hodgepodge". In fact, there's no specific recipe for minestrone and barely any rules that need to be followed when making it - and that is music to our ears! Minestrone is all about throwing things together - chunky things, like hearty vegetables - and creating a wonderful flavor one might slurp up with a large spoon on a cold, blustery, winter day.

Sometimes though, in our attempt to create the best flavor we can, we may be tempted to use substances, like MSG, that enhance the flavor of certain foods. The jury is still out on exactly how unhealthy MSG is, but we'll let you google the word and decide for yourself.

We personally prefer to avoid it whenever possible because of the controversy surrounding it's effect on one's body, but even more than that, it feels like cheating when you use it in the kitchen. With today's fancy additives you can make food taste like anything...ANY THING! (Don't even get us started on that subject..) but taking vegetables, fruits, meats, nuts, seeds, spices, etc. and combining them to create a delicious cuisine is the best kind of art there is!

We like to create flavors in the kitchen that come from the actual food themselves - after all, there are thousands of different foods and spices just waiting to show off their "talent". Don't deny them their time in the spotlight!

So, when it came time to serve up some Minestrone, we discovered a very tasty recipe, and it's flavor was off the charts, but three of the ingredients suggested contained high levels of MSG. What?! We felt duped. Anybody can create monstrous flavor with flavor enhancers, but can it be done with real food?

And the answer is YES!

Our soup gets much of it's pizazz from the Italian sausage and crushed red pepper, so choose your sausage carefully, or make your own - just make it super flavorful. As far as beans go, I hate beans - I really hate beans - so the first time I made this soup I did add them, but only because I wanted to feel like a grown-up. I do not, however, find them a necessary ingredient in this soup, but if you're a bean lover, go crazy, bean it up! Add pasta if you want more carbs, but we're pretty wild about the idea of meat and vegetables going it alone.

Our favorite way to make this soup is in the crockpot because you can make it in the morning and it will be ready to eat by dinner, but the stovetop works just as well. As with most soups, this minestrone tastes best on day two and three. Make it tonight, and you'll have a hearty bowl of heaven by tomorrow!


One Pound Italian Sausage
4-5 Strips Bacon, cooked (Oink or Gobble)
One Medium Onion, Diced
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 Cups Water
One Medium-Large Zucchini, chopped
2 Stalks Celery, diced
2 Large Carrots, diced
2 Cups Beef Broth
One Can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed (OPTIONAL)
One 28-Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes
One Tablespoon Sugar
One Teaspoon Oregano
One Teaspoon Italian Seasonings
One Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1/8 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

In a skillet cook sausage with garlic and onion. Drain if necessary, then place in crockpot. Add all other ingredients and let the crockpot do it's thing.

Return hours and hours later to taste your new favorite Minestrone!


As you can see in the photo above, we like to eat our Minestrone with blue corn chips - soooo good together!

Note: In case you were wondering what the 3 ingredients were that contained the unwanted MSG, it was Campbells Bean and Bacon Soup, Bob Evans Italian Sausage, and Swanson's Beef Broth. You can find organic beef broth in the health food section at your local grocery store.


Amy said...

I will definitely have to make it this week -- it looks delicious!

Mira said...

*my tummy grumbles*

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