Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cozy Up with a Newf and a Bowl of Hunter's Minestrone

Trying to decide what to serve a group of Newfoundland dog owners, handlers, judges, and club members at our Regional Specialty Show is no easy task.  February is typically cold and rainy weather; thankfully, the show is held indoors.  This will be our second year hosting the ringside luncheon.  Last year, everyone seemed to appreciate having the choice between a comforting, hot bowl of Barefoot Contessa's Chicken Pot Pie, and Bon Appetit's Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup...

This weekend, I pulled out a stack of favorite cookbooks and and started planning Friday's menu...

Tyler's Ultimate is one of my favorite cookbooks, and his Hunter's Minestrone instantly called my name.  After perusing recipes all afternoon, I sent John to the store for a few missing ingredients and we prepared a test batch.  It definitely fits the bill as a thick, soul-warming version of Minestrone.  The verdict:  I'll be making a double or triple batch for our fellow Newf lovers on Friday.  I will substitute a mix of sweet and spicy Italian sausage, rather than the bulk pork sausage, and use smaller rigatoni than pictured here.

Hunter's Minestrone
Tyler Florence, Tyler's Ultimate: Brilliant Simple Food to Make Anytime; also featured on Food Network's Soup& Sammy


2 quarts chicken stock
1 head garlic, halved
1/2 pound small rigatoni
Extra-virgin olive oil
8 fresh sage leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
3/4 pound loose sweet Italian pork sausage
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 (28-ounce) can crushed plum tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 (28-ounce) cans cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 bunch fresh parsley leaves, finely minced
Coarsely ground black pepper
12 slices baguette
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Combine the stock and halved garlic head in a big saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes to give the stock a nice, garlicky taste; strain out the garlic. Keep warm.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the rigatoni.

Pour 1/4 cup olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the sage, rosemary and thyme and warm the oil over medium heat to infuse it with the flavor of the herbs, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the sausage with the side of a big spoon until well browned. Chop the carrots, celery, and onion in a food processor. Add to the saucepan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned.

To the pan with the sausage stir in the crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, cannelloni beans, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.

Cook the rigatoni in the boiling water for 6 minutes; it should be slightly underdone. Drain and stir into the simmering soup (I kept the pasta separate, mixed with just a little of the soup broth to keep it moist,  and added it to each serving bowl as needed.  This prevents it from overcooking).  Add the parsley, and salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste. Discard the bay leaf and herb sprigs.

To serve, preheat the broiler. Put the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano and broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and float a couple of the baguette slices on top.

Serves 10 and freezes well, without the pasta.

In addition to Tyler's Minestrone, I'm planning on offering Hearty Beef Stew (The New Best Recipe, by Cook's Illustrated).  Both will pair nicely with toasted baguette slices.

We'll also bake an assortment of breakfast treats, to go with coffee and Tyler's Ultimate Hot Chocolate - Cherry Scones, Ricotta Orange Pound Cake, and Banana Muffins with Mascarpone Cream Frosting.


julie overstreet said...

Just wanted to let you know I have read some of your posts via "ecoronado" and really enjoy them.

Anonymous said...

Ummmm, good! I’ll be wishing I had a bowl of that yummy looking minestrone to savor about the time the rains hit this evening. Delicious comfort food. If you’re packaging and freezing any of that without the rigatoni, feel free to drop some off at my place. I could just add some whole grain penne and pass on those gorgeous little baguette slices and Parmigiano to make it a bit more diet friendly. It’s sure tough drooling over your posts lately.

Molly said...

We met at the Silpada/CAbi party this past Sunday...

I was a rambling fool by the end of the evening ~ sorry about inundating you with a million ideas/questions about food/culinary/organic items. I'd love to have info I can access by internet for places here in SAN DIEGO to FUEL my Family in a healthy & consumer conscious way... whew, that was a sentenceful... yes, I am always like this.

Anyhow I enjoyed meeting you and LOVE your blog... will be fwdng the address to my husband and some foodie pals.

Congrats on making the time to put such quality into this blog and letting your passions have an outlet we can all benefit from.

Wishing you good health and an enjoyable day...

R. said...

Oh my gosh - that looks SO good! I love rigatoni, but usually the smaller kind ;) I find the big type a bit overwhelming. Even better that you can make it and freeze it!

Anonymous said...

Yum, this sounds delicious and so hearty-what a perfect soup to make during these cold February nights!

Sleepy Bear said...

I made this soup today and it was amazing!! Thanks for sharing! :-)

Rita B said...

Wow, love this minestrone...thank you for sharing it! We made the soup last night, and it's perfect for the chilly, rainy weather we're having right now in Vermont. We doubled the batch, and had plenty to freeze too. Thanks for a great blog...I first linked to you through Fine Cooking, and I'm now a regular visitor!