I am not a huge TV watcher. I can take it or leave it and I would say 98% of the time I leave it. However there is one exception. I do DVR Pioneer Woman, Barefoot Contessa, and Trisha Yearwood. There is one more but I haven’t watched any of the shows yet, so I can’t even remember the name. Oh well, these are my big three. Everyone in my house knows that if Mom sits down and turns TV on, it is going to cooking shows. Well it is what I do.
This morning started much the same as usual, take the kids to the bus stop and come back here for my breakfast before I begin cleaning or tackling any other to do items. I have been eating the Pioneer Woman’s Spinach Artichoke dip for breakfast. I made it a couple of days ago. Look that one up on her blog. It is amazing!!!
Well I decided to catch up with Mrs. Ina. She was making a great soup called Minestrone. Never made it before. However lots of chopping, lots of cooking. The longer I watched the more I thought I can make this. I have NEARLY all the ingredients. Well Decision made. The end of the show Ina and her husband were in front of the cozy fire and that topped it for me. I want to be warm and cozy enjoying this soup.
As I looked at Ina’s recipe, it immediately became apparent that I was going to have to improvise. I did not have a lot of the ingredients and since I live 33 miles from civilization, I would not be getting them anytime soon. However I was already invested so here we go. Check hers out at www.foodnetwork.com. Hopefully next time I will have all the stuff to make it her way. When living on the ranch the main lesson I have learned is flexibility in all things. You gotta make things work.
Here we go. Her recipe uses pancetta. I don’t have any, never have. So I am going for bacon. Is that the same. I hope so. Maybe they are close and it will give a similar taste. I chopped it up with my handy-dandy kitchen shears and cooked it until almost crumbly, but not crunchy. I have a high hate for crunchy bacon. EWWW!
The next couple of items goes extremely well. I have carrots, onions, celery, but no squash. I figure potatoes will do. So I chop up a couple of those and throw them in. I let them cook with garlic, thyme. I do not have any canned tomatoes. But what I do have is a can of tomato sauce and some fresh tomatoes. I throw that in with about half a can of water. I add the 4 cups of chicken stock from my freezer. (Darn if I had thought ahead. I just made it and put in the freezer yesterday.) I let it all cook for about 30 minutes until the veggies were tender.
I then added 2 cups of dry elbow noodles. That was all I had besides rainbow spirals. I do not have any beans what so ever. I have never been out of beans. I am not sure what has happened to my cabinets. I am usually overly stocked on everything. I am thinking a major shopping endeavor is going to happen soon in my future.
I add 1 block of frozen chopped spinach and let it melt in the pot. I add some more chicken stock. Yep the rest of what I made. At this point my pot is almost to the spilling point. However I add just another handful of noodles. I figure they will soak up some extra moisture. My chicken stock also has some chicken that came off the bones. So I do have some of that floating in my pot. Not sure how this is going to turn out.
It begins to thicken. The noodles are done. I add just a little more salt and pepper. Ladle myself a bowl and top with grated parmesan cheese. Not bad. Not bad at all. Wow, I can only imagine if I had made it properly as in her recipe, but this is pretty good.
Here is my recipe. If you make it let me know it I need to adjust something. Sometimes I forget my exact substitutions.
How many utensils can I fit in that pot? I know crazy.
Connie's Substitution Minestrone
- 5-7 pieces of bacon, cut into pieces
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 large potatoes, washed and diced with skins on
- 1 1/2 tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2 tsp thyme leaves
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 1/2 can of water
- 4 tomatoes, washed, and diced
- 6-8 cups chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups dry pasta
- 1 pkg frozen chopped spinach
- Shredded parmesan cheese
Cook the bacon over medium heat until brown, but not crunchy. (unless you like crunchy) Add the onions, celery, carrots, and potatoes. Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, tomato sauce, water, tomatoes, and 4-5 cups of the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce and cook uncovered at a simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the dry pasta and spinach. Cook at a simmer until the pasta is done. Adjust seasonings as needed.
Serve in large bowls, with parmesan sprinkled over the top.
Oh, it’s yummy. Hopefully the hubby will agree when he arrives home off the mountain.