Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rustic Italian Soup ~ From the Pantry

Rustic Italian Soup ~ From the Pantry
As Shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Serves 4 to 6

This delicious soup recipe is one I came up with when I wanted a hot, filling meal using ingredients on hand. It's also a good one to keep in mind when time is short, as it can be ready in less than half an hour, and tastes even better the next day. I always make extra!

Omit the bacon and use vegetable stock if you prefer a vegetarian version.

1 Tablespoon olive oil for sauteing
2 slices bacon, cut cross-way into 1/4 to 1/2-inch strips
1 medium onion, cut into smallish dice
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 bay leaf
1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons minced fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano (any or all)
OR 2 teaspoons dry Italian Seasoning (or more to taste)
16 to 32 ounces chicken broth (depending upon how 'soupy' or thick you like your soup
1 or 2 cans diced tomatoes, including juice
1 or 2 cans canned beans (your choice; cannellini, kidney, garbanzo, butter beans, etc.) Drained and rinsed.
salt, freshly ground pepper

Method: Heat oil in soup pot, add cut-up bacon; fry until just crisp. Remove bacon and reserve. Drain all but 1 Tablespoon oil from pan, add onion and saute until translucent but not browned, add garlic and stir for a minute to cook slightly.

Add chicken broth, tomatoes with juice, bay leaf and herbs. Allow to simmer over medium low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, add canned beans, reserved bacon (and any optional ingredients, suggested below) and continue simmering 10 to 12 additional minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding more herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Can be simmered longer, add more broth or water if desired as some liquid will evaporate as the soup simmers.

Optional: Add a small squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a few drops of red wine vinegar just before serving if you like a sharper flavor, this little touch truly piques the flavors.

To serve, garnish with grated Parmesan cheese or toasted baguette slices with melted cheese and a bit of crisp bacon.

This soup reheats exceptionally well, and seems to gain flavor when served a day or two later.

*Optional additions to add when beans are added:
Cooked, cubed chicken
Cooked Mini-meatballs
Cut-up raw spinach, chard, or other greens
Small pasta shapes, or rice ~ allow to simmer until tender
Diced carrots or celery ~ allow to simmer until tender

I hope you and your family enjoy this soup as much as my family does.

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