May 31, 2023 1 Comment
If you live in Chicago or in the vicinity, you likely appreciate my penchant for hearty soup even on the cusp of June. While some parts of the United States actually have four seasons, I realized when I moved to the area from the East Coast in 1999 that Chicago is different despite the fact that the locals are in complete outward denial. The winter is very long and spring is a blip. Whenever I question why I am still wearing a winter coat in the early parts of what I consider summer, my husband, who grew up here, simply claims that 'this year is different'. After two decades I realized that his response is actually a coping mechanism that the locals employ to justify the nutty Midwest weather. And that's okay. I adjusted by keeping my soup habit going to July and even sometimes beyond. Sigh. This minestrone has been on my mind for weeks and months. I had a large bag of dried beans from Costco that I needed to use up. The first time I made it, I added way too much pasta and it tasted more like overcooked pasta in broth - though it was still tasty. I realized I should add the pasta at the very end to avoid overcooking it and add less. I also learned to make the most out of my 3-quart Instant Pot by cooking the soup in 3 cups of water and then adding 2 cups in at the end - if you add it all at once you'll exceed the PC Max line. If you are making this in a larger IP you can just add the water all at once. If making this on the stovetop just follow the steps below and simmer partially covered for about 60 minutes or more until all the beans soften, adding more water a cup at a time as needed. Then, turn the heat off, add the pasta, cover the pot and let it sit on the same burner as the directions call for below. And, even if you are already well into warmer whether, consider making this delicious soup. I've been warming it up for a quick and easy breakfast, too.
Instant Pot: Hearty Minestrone Soup
Pressure Cooker Size: 3 quart or larger
Warm Up: 19 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Cool Down: 10 minutes NR + MR
TOTAL: 59 minutes
Makes: 9 cups
1 cup dried mixed beans (navy-pinto-kidney), picked over and washed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, thinly minced
1 small onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and cut in rounds
1 small potato, peeled and chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
1 16 oz. can crushed tomato
5 cups water, divided
1/3 cup mini pasta shells or orzo
1. Soak the beans in hot, boiling water for at least 1 hour or in room temperature water for 6 hours to overnight. Drain and discard the water. I like to buy premixed dried beans that also contain lentils. Use any bean-lentil combination or just one variety like navy, kidney, or pinto.
2. Select the SAUTE setting and adjust to NORMAL. When the indicator flashes HOT, add the oil. Once the oil is warm, add the bay leaves, garlic, and onion. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
3. Add the celery, carrot, potato, and zucchini. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
4. Add the rosemary, thyme, red chile flakes, black pepper, and salt. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the crushed tomato and cook for 1 minute.
5. Press CANCEL. Add 3 cups of water and stir. Lock the lid into place and make sure the pressure release valve is set to the sealing position (upwards). Press the PRESSURE COOK button and then press the PRESSURE LEVEL button until the panel reads HIGH. Adjust the cook time to 40 minutes. I cook this longer because some beans need more time to cook through.
6. Once the cooking is complete, release the pressure naturally for 10 minutes. Then, manually release the remaining pressure. Press CANCEL, remove the lid, and add 2 cups of water and pasta. Press SAUTE and adjust to LESS. Once the soup simmers, cook for 2 minutes. Press CANCEL again and loosely cover the pot for another 2 minutes, so the warm soup cooks the pasta through. Remove and discard the bay leaves and serve piping hot.
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