During the time of my interest for food and cooking I have learned that the simplest food becomes fancy under a sonorous name. One of such dishes would be minestrone. It sounds special and fancy but it is nothing but a vegetable soup. Of course, if you call it as simple as vegetable soup it would not be interesting at all – see the basics of advertising…
Nevertheless, minestrone takes a special and interesting place in terms of cooking aboard. First of all it is a soup. Soup is always welcome aboard – in winter to warm you up and bring back energy; in summer to refresh you although it is served hot and help you to cope with high temperatures without shocking your body with ice cold beverages. Secondly, it is very easy to prepare and could be done in various styles.
Let’s get back to the beginning. Minestrone originates from Italy and literally translated it means a big soup. This implicates that it could be served as a main course, not only as the starter. Although some contemporary chefs claim there is an original recipe for genuine Italian minestrone, I consider it a masterpiece of each individual chef.
It consists of seasonal vegetables such as onions, lentils, cabbage, garlic, broad beans, mushrooms, carrots, asparagus, and turnips. Still, nowadays we do not have to rely on seasonal vegetables because all vegetables are available at any grocery shop at any time of the year. One interesting and very tasty variety of minestrone is soup of lentil, chickpeas, barley and carrots.
Cook all the ingredients in a vegetable broth; add dried bay leaf, salt pepper and olive oil. Basically that would be enough to bring back smiles on the faces of your exhausted crew. The smiles would be even wider if you enrich this type of minestrone with some dried Istrian sausages or dried beef meat, even strips of bacon or pancetta. The more spring-like minestrone considers green beans, baby carrots and beans.
Some little tricks will make this ‘vegetable soup’ special. Simmer some onions on olive oil and add bacon cut in small cubes. When onions get glassy gold color and bacon starts to release its scents put rice on top of them. Lower the fire and let the rice absorb fat from the bacon.
After few minutes of simmering add beef broth and leave it cooking with small branch of fresh rosemary in it. After some five minutes of cooking remove the rosemary and add vegetables that we mentioned earlier. Your minestrone will be ready for serving in another 15 minutes. Garnish this minestrone with finely chopped parsley and sprinkle it with ground parmigiano reggiano cheese or some other full-fat or goat cheese.
OK, it is your turn now. Please send me your ideas as well as impressions of your crew about such dishes served aboard.
I wish you a calm sea, a fine wind and a strong mast!