jan-15-2009-027

Lindsay is asking for nutritious freezer meals, and I figured what could be better than a soup. I generally have leftovers and freeze them for our own use later or to give to family members who don’t have the time or inclination to make nourishing meals.

I am trying to move away from freezing our foods in plastic and for that reason we purchased many quart and pint sized canning jars. I was a little scared at first to be freezing in glass, but have only had one jar crack thus far in freezing soups, stocks and raw milk.

To freeze in glass canning jars: Pour the soup into the jar leaving about 1 1/2 inches of headspace. This will allow the soup to expand without cracking the jar. I place the jar, uncovered, into the freezer for about eight hours. That way if the jar was too full, the contents would expand up and not out. Then simply place a lid on the jars. You have to be careful defrosting in glass jars, as sudden extreme temperature changes will cause the glass to crack or shatter. I just pull out a jar and place it in the refrigerator. It takes about one to two days to thaw out in the refrigerator.

Minestrone is a soup made from any variety of vegetables. When I make minestrone in the summer it usually involves zucchini and bell peppers. With a foot or two of snow on the ground here, zucchini and bell peppers are nowhere in sight. Replacing them with hardy root vegetables is a delicious and seasonal take on the chicken & tomato broth soup. Using dried herbs instead of fresh also makes sense, unless of course you have beautiful pots of herbs in your kitchen.

This soup is a wonderful anecdote for the arctic chill we are experiencing right about now.

jan-15-2009-018

Winter Minestrone

Ingredients

3 Tablespoons olive oil
5 small celery stalks, chopped
1/2 large onion, diced
5 small turnips, peeled & chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chicken stock
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon each: basil, oregano, thyme & rosemary
1 bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1-2 cups cubed, cooked chicken or 1-2 cups cooked white beans
sea salt & pepper to taste

Directions

In a large soup pot over medium heat, saute onions, with a pinch of salt, in olive oil until translucent. Add celery, turnips & carrots and saute until slightly browned. Add garlic and saute another two minutes. Pour in chicken stock and bring to a boil, scraping up all of the lovely browned bits with a wooden spoon. Stir in tomatoes, dried herbs, bay leaf and red pepper flakes. Add a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for at least 20 minutes, a couple of hours is even better. Ten minutes before serving stir in chicken or white beans. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed with salt, pepper or a dash of lemon juice or wine.

Serve with plenty of freshly grated parmesan cheese. And if you do have those fresh herbs, basil would be perfect to sprinkle on top.