25 March 2014

Pin Test #23: Minestrone Olive Garden Style

First let me confess that this photo does not look that appetizing because of the fact that I totally overdid it with the noodles. But in reverence to fair and truthful journalism, I felt like you deserved to see what my soup looked like. Sorry for all the mushy looking beige noodles. The story does get better.

Last week I was in a bind by six one evening with absolutely no idea what to make for dinner and a fridge that held nothing easy to pull together. So I decided to rummage through my Pinterest Board Comfort Foods and see if there was anything I actually had ingredients for in the cupboards.

I found this recipe for Minestrone and I had most of the ingredients. I thought about a quick trip to the store but at rush hour, that could've been a big nightmare to go the six blocks to the store and walking home that far with bags of groceries breathing the exhaust of cars backed up all the way didn't sound too appetizing either. So I played with what I had. The recipe is supposed to be very close to Olive Garden's Minestrone, which I've always liked so I thought it would be a good one to try.

I didn't have zucchini but I substituted it with a stalk of broccoli that wasn't enough to make for a meal on it's own. I cut it up in small chunks. I used canned green beans because that is what I had. Not sure why I had canned green beans in the cupboard because I only cook fresh as a side dish, but they were great to add into a soup. Fresh or frozen would've tasted a little better but again, it worked. The other ingredients I didn't have were fresh parsley and dried thyme. So I checked the conversion rates and used dried parsley and fresh thyme from my patio garden. Fantastic.

I am learning that with my family you cannot have too much broth in a soup. I have been getting regular complaints of not enough broth. So I made the mistake this time of adding too much pasta which soaked up all the broth. I threw in the rest of a box of vegetable broth to thin it out for my grilled cheese dipping family.

I was a little worried about The Bug's interest in a soup that looked like a bunch of vegetables, but I took the time to introduce it to her before dinner when she said the kitchen smelled really good. I told her that her dad and I both really loved it and I thought she might like it to. I gave her a small bowl full and was happy to see by the end of the meal she had eaten up ever bit and liked it. The Man didn't seem super excited at first about Minestrone and I will admit that it doesn't have the most glamorous sounding name. But he finished off two bowls full and commented on how good it was a couple of times.

So I will say this pin test was a hit, a success - except for my overdoing it with the noodles. I should've done about 1/3 of what I put in, but when the noodles weren't cooked yet it didn't look like that much pasta. Funny how when you add a little water to noodles they sure get big! I will have to say, however, that with a large container full of leftover soup in the fridge I have had a hard time trying to get people enthused about eating it again. Leftover soup just never looks that good in the fridge. I guess I'll just have to spring it on them one day when they're really hungry and time is short.

Here's a quick tip on making super delicious grilled cheese sandwiches that I learned from The Man. First let me say I have learned some of my best cooking tips from him. On the inside, use two kinds of cheese. We use cheddar and monterrey jack cheeses. On the outside sprinkle a little bit of garlic salt and kosher salt on the hot butter toasted top side. Just a tiny dash of both makes the flavors pop in an amazing way.

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