The mysteries of the culinary world are many, and even those with self-evident answers continue to surprise and stump. Why do 60 seconds stand between a silken plate of cod and garbage? What is it about parsley? And when precisely does one feel like a nut, and when is it that one don’t?
Me, I am always amazed how much better soup tastes on day three.
Yes I understand in the most theoretical sense that flavors need time to settle, to blend, to mix together like middle schoolers at a dance who can’t really get it right the first time. But no time was this more clear than when I made Minestrone Soup.
I can’t recall exactly what inspired me to make this –- I think someone was tweeting or blogging or bragging in some other electronic form about their version of minestrone, and I got a hankering. I decided to see if I could Jenny-fy it for weeknight cooking by substituting canned cannellini and garbanzo beans for the dry ones used here -- about ¾ of a can each.
In a twist to keep you all guessing, I used fresh green beans, not frozen (and the best looking zucchini I could find in the market), but then reverted to canned tomatoes. I considered using chicken stock for depth, but wanted to stay true to the vegetarian spirit that Foodwriter97426 was bringing.
I trimmed nearly an hour off the first set of instructions, given my canned beans. From there I followed the recipe word for word, using orzo as my pasta of choice. I had a bottle of Malbec left from a party the day before, and in that went at the end.
I confess that Sunday night, when it was all said and done, I was pleased with the speed of my soup, but felt it was a little bland. Two days went by and, realizing I needed a sack lunch, I packed it with low expectations and trudged up the hill to the Metro.
Lunch rolled around, and I pulled out my soup, some very good Parmesan and a cheese grater and got to work at the microwave. You can imagine that when you are a fish out of water at your new office (we’re talking mackerel in the rain forest here), madly working the cheese grater at your desk does little to dispel the skepticism of your colleagues about your seriousness of purpose.
But let me tell you, this recipe two days after the fact, with a hefty dose of cheese, is just what the week-day doctor ordered.
Brown baggers, get to it. I recommend you bring a cloth napkin to work too. Lunch, even one reheated at the office in a dirty microwave near the forlorn box of Krispy Kreme donuts and several dirty coffee mugs, should always be a civilized affair.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).Order now