Still Winter Inside - עדיין חורף בפנים
It's a bit late in the year to be making a hearty soup like minestrone, but I am at it again. Even though we have returned to standard time and the days are longer and Shabbat candles will not be lit until does 18:40 this evening, it seems as though we are still experiencing winter. It is beautiful outside and I can smell spring but the necessity of "shelter in place" has everyone standing at the window looking out.
I grew up in a very harsh climate. Winter began mid-October and spring didn't arrive until mid-April and sometimes even as late as mid-May. People from warmer climates used to say to me "How could you live like that? What did you do all the time? I could never live like that." And yet we did. And we thrived. We read a lot of books. And we learned how to live inside.
We were fortunate to live in a city but for many farm families the isolation was unbearable and sometimes tragic. Every year some poor soul went berserk and put a violent end to his (always his) and his family's misery. This doesn't happen much anymore. Everyone now has telephones and computers and television and the long winter hours are filled with amusements and distractions and the questions of "When will winter be over? When will the spring arrive?" are less pressing.
But suddenly we have all been thrown back to the prairies. We have technology and we can stay connected, so to speak, but the uncertainty of when this situation will end, lurks beneath most of daily life. Our new daily life.
I spoke with my Mom last night. She grew up on a farm and lived through countless, endless winters. She is self-isolating. She has been alone in her apartment for three weeks. She told me she is not bored or lonely. She grew up learning how to cope with this kind of life. She learned to prepare for the future. So like her mother and her mother's mother and as far back as anyone can remember, she bakes and she cooks and she puts food away to be eaten later when she can have company. She is cleaning the cupboards in preparation for Pesach. She's trying a new recipe for Sponge Cake. She is going through the picture albums. She is keeping up with the news. She is planning for summer visits. She knows there will be a spring. She doesn't know when it will come, but it will come.
So, I will try to have some perspective on this time. I will try to make the most of it. So after today I think I will move to spring like soups. Less hearty. In the meantime I am sharing my Minestrone recipe. It is not something terribly special. But Isaac told me I should write down all the recipes because what is intuitive to me, is not so obvious to everyone else. Thanks Itz for the encouragement!
As with all the recipes it will be also be published later under a Creative Commons License. The attribution is important to me. If you enjoy the soup, let me know and don't forget the shout-out.
A Note About Soups
I learned the hard way (through many failures) that soup can have all the right ingredients and come out tasting like water. It is critical to season vegetables - even for meat soups - before any liquid is added to the mix. Once water or stock is added to a soup it is nearly impossible to correct the seasoning. All the steps that involve sautéing ensure that the salt and the spices actually add flavor.
If by chance you add too much water and the soup comes out "thin" (in taste) add fresh herbs to bring out the flavor when it is served. This has worked many times for me.
BT's Late Winter Minestrone
4 small celery stalks - preferably the stalks from the top of celery root
1 medium leek
3 small sweet carrots
2 small potatoes
1 medium zucchini
1 cup fresh tomatoes
14 ounce (400 grams) can of whole tomatoes
1 cup (130 grams) par-boiled pasta
1 cup (130 grams) par-boiled navy beans
2 tablespoons (15 ml) fruity olive oil
1 rounded tablespoon (5 grams) dried oregano
1 teaspoon (5 ml) harissa
1 tablespoon (15 ml) pesto or 5 large leaves basil and 2 clove crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 grams) cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (1.5 grams) ground cloves
1 large bay leaf
2 teaspoons (10 grams) sugar
5 1/4 cups (1.25 l.) water
1 teaspoon (5 grams) kosher salt
Ground black pepper
Wash leeks, zucchini and celery thoroughly
Peel carrots and potatoes
Dice vegetables into small pieces
In a heavy gauge pot add olive oil and turn flame onto medium
Add celery, carrots and leeks
Sauté for five minutes until vegetables begin to caramelize
Add zucchini and continuing sautéing for two minutes
Add oregano, cinnamon and cloves
Sauté for 1 minute
Add pesto (basil and garlic)
Add salt and sugar and 3 grinds black pepper
Add raw tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes
Add canned tomatoes
Add beans and pasta
Add bay leaf
Cover pot and turn heat to low
Simmer for 15 minutes.
Taste for salt and pepper
If soup needs additional salt and you do not want to add more, use half a squeezed lemon instead.
Remove bay leaf
Serve with grated parmesan or garlic croutons and fresh chopped parsley
שבת שלום מתל אביב
Shabbat Shalom from Tel Aviv