Monday, December 7, 2015

"In & Out of the Kitchen in Fifteen Minutes or Less" by Anne Willan - Fifteen-Minute Minestrone

Date I made this recipe:  November 30, 2015

In & Out of the Kitchen in Fifteen Minutes or Less by Anne Willan
Published by:  Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.
ISBN:  0-8478-1013-2
Recipe:  Fifteen-Minute Minestrone – p. 48

Even though my husband and I didn't come even close to stuffing ourselves this Thanksgiving, I was still in the mood for something quick, easy and refreshing and found it in this Fifteen-Minute Minestrone recipe from Anne Willan's cookbook.  Oddly enough, only two recipes in this book – the minestrone and a "Fifteen-Minute Fire Pot" – are the only two recipes in the book with a fifteen-minute moniker.  Not that this means anything, you understand, because all the recipes she included take "fifteen minutes or less"  of your time in the kitchen or the book wouldn't be named what it was named. At least we hope.  But do note, that while the recipes themselves may take a while to cook (like, e.g. the Roasted Root Vegetables with Nut recipe (p. 100) that takes 45-55 minutes, she fully intends for you to limit your time in the kitchen so as to relax, possibly with a glass of wine, while the oven does all the work. 

I must confess that I wasn't quite sure a minestrone soup made in fifteen minutes would come up to my high standards but I am happy to tell you it was delicious.  And we just felt so very healthy eating it to boot! 

I probably never should have doubted Anne Willan's prowess in the kitchen but I am ashamed to say that I did, even if for a brief moment.  I met Anne several years ago at a book signing and at that time, I knew of her from her work at The Greenbriar Hotel and Resort in West Virginia.  Not that I've ever eaten there, mind you, but I passed by it twice on travels through West Virginia

This cookbook has a nice variety of recipes, from fish to pastas, salads and the like.  All the photos looked pretty mouthwatering and if the taste of the minestrone was anything to go by, flavor is not lacking at all in these dishes.  I like that – fast and flavorful!  And if you really want to save time, each recipe contains an At-A-Glance set of truncated instructions should you not want to read the entire thing.

That said – you will need to allocate more than 15 minutes of your time to make the minestrone as there is some chopping and dicing to be done. Once you get that out of the way, the rest of the job involves opening cans and if it takes you more than 15 minutes to open cans, you need a new can opener!

Were it not for the fact that I limit myself to making only one recipe per cookbook one time only, I would certainly add this to my "make again" list. 

Fifteen-Minute Minestrone – serves 4
1 bay leaf
1 leek
3 celery stalks
2 tablespoons olive oil
6-ounce slice of country ham (Ann's note:  I bought a thick slice of ham from my grocery store's deli.  If you use non-deli ham, trim the sides to remove any excess fat.)
1 garlic clove
2 small zucchini
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup pasta bows (uncooked)
1 small can of plum tomatoes (8-ounce)
1 small can of white kidney beans (8-ounce)
R sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley, to decorate
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

At-A Glance Instructions (full instructions are included)
Bring 1 quart water to boil with bay leaf in large covered soup pot.

Slice leeks and celery and wash.  Heat oil in frying pan, add sliced vegetables with pepper, and cover with foil.  Cook gently until soft.

Meanwhile, dice ham and add to pan.  Peel and chop garlic and add.

Trim, quarter, and slice zucchini.  Add to pot of boiling water some [freshly ground] pepper.  Stir in pasta and cover pan.

Drain tomatoes and add juice to soup.  Coarsely chop tomatoes then add.  Stir in beans, then add vegetables, ham, and garlic.

Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer 3-4 minutes.

Adjust seasoning, spoon into bowls, and top with parsley sprigs.  Served grated Parmesan separately.

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