It's the second month in a row for me joining The Secret Recipe Club.  It's fun, Amanda emails you your secret blogger and you get to choose anything to make of theirs.  Everyone posts the recipe on the same day and they all will be linked at the bottom of this post.  Sounds like fun, huh?  Contact Amanda if you want to be a part of it next month! 

What make this even MORE fun, is this is the week that I am hosting Presto Pasta Nights!!  So I want all of you to email me with your pasta recipes and I will include them in a round up on Friday on my blog.  Just put a link in your post to me and to Presto Pasta Nights. There is a new host every week, check out Ruth's site for all the juicy details.   

So my secret recipe blog is Mele Cotte.  Chris has many amazing recipes, I had a hard time choosing.  I finally decided on this Tuscan Minestrone Soup as it had pasta in it. (Presto Pasta Nights, remember?) 

I had every intention of following her recipe closely but a turn of events changed the soup considerably. It was completely inspired from the recipe, I have the soup stains on the hard copy to prove it! 

I've been trying to clean out the freezer and I had 2 small ham bones in there so I decided to throw them in the crock pot for the day.  By the end of the day, I had a delicious ham broth and a bunch of ham chunks to add to the soup. 

Then I realized my tomatoes were furry, so we opted for the canned.  I didn't have as much zucchini as I thought so I added a red pepper and some celery.  The celery was on it's last leg too so it needed to be used. I also like my soup thick so I used less liquid and I cooked the pasta right in the soup rather than precooking it.  Add as much water or ham broth that you want depending on your taste. 

Moral of the story, I ended up with a delicious soup that only sorta resembled the original but was completely inspired from Chris's original.  She has a Herbed Chicken Salad and a Meatloaf with Red Pepper Sauce that I am waiting to make soon!

Tuscan Minestrone Soup
Adapted from Mele Cotte

1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 - 3 carrots, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large zucchini, cut into coins cut in half
1 small bunch spinach, shredded and chopped
1 can diced tomatoes (or 2 fresh tomatoes)
2 cans white beans, rinsed and drained
4 tbsp. tomato paste
Salt and pepper
1 cup pasta, uncooked
4 - 6 cups water or ham broth (I think that I used about 4 cups)
1 ham hock (unless you're vegetarian, then you probably wouldn't want to use this.)

Saute the onion in cooking spray until soft, for about 3 - 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add all the remaining veggies.  Season with salt and pepper and stir.  Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until the veggies are softened.  Add ham broth and ham chunks if using.  Stir in the tomato paste and cover and simmer the soup on low for about 45 minutes. Heat to boiling, add pasta and beans and cook until pasta is done.  Serve. 
**I like thick soup so I added about 4 cups of liquid but if you want it thinner, just add more broth.

**You can add pretty much any veggies. You can make this vegetarian by eliminating the ham broth and ham, you might need to add more salt.

This is linked with:
$5 Dinner Challenge at $5 Dinners

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