Minestrone with Basil & Cheddar Scallion Scones

I’m going to tell you a secret. (Lean in close, please. I’m whispering.)

I just love soup. Some of you regular readers already knew that (yes, would you believe I have ‘regulars’? and not only my mom!). So I guess it’s not really a secret. Never mind.

Anyway, right after raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, this meal is one of my favorite winter things — and I so wish you could be here to smell my kitchen right now! Hot minestrone is simmering away on the stove, and I just pulled a pan of golden cheddar scones out of the oven. OH! How heavenly! This cozy dinner is good for what ails ya’ on a f-f-f-frigid day like today!

Now, I’m not even gonna try to lie here: this soup will require a bit of chopping on your part. I’m sorry. Think of chopping as therapy. That’s what I do. And I pinky swear it will be worth it – especially when you see how very many vegetables you’re gonna be able to sneak by any of your veggie-averse diners. This yummy soup packs a nutritional wallop, and those picky little punks will be none the wiser!

It feels good to pull one over on them now and then, doesn’t it? Heh, heh, heh.

As for the scones – where should I begin?! They were supposed to be biscuits, but I simply cannot be bothered with rolling out dough and having a floury mess all over my countertops. I don’t tolerate icky counters. It’s a pet peeve of mine. A much neater approach is to form the dough into two discs, slice them into 6th’s (thounds like I’m lithping, doesn’t it?), bake ‘em up, and call ‘em scones.

One should be plenty…which, of course is why I ate two. Don’t tell anyone!

MINESTRONE WITH BASIL

Serves: 6

Source: modified from epicurious.com

  • 2 c. shredded green cabbage
  • 1 – 14.5 oz. can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (Bush’s are on sale)
  • 1 – 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced (on sale)
  • 1 medium russet potato, peeled and left whole
  • 1 small russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 t. salt
  • 5 c. chicken broth (plus an additional cup to thin if necessary)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • ½ c. small shell pasta (Creamette brand is on sale)
  • ½ c. fresh basil, chopped and divided
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (to be fair, the GREEN CAN is on sale)

Place first 12 ingredients in a very large soup pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until potato is very tender, about 45 minutes.

Transfer 2 cups of soup and the whole potato to blender and puree (see note on pureeing hot liquids). Return puree to the soup in the pot. Add the pasta and ¼ cup basil; simmer uncovered until pasta is cooked through and flavors blend, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; add additional broth to thin soup if necessary. Mix in the remaining ¼ cup basil. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

NOTE * BLENDING HOT LIQUIDS 101: Unless you enjoy cleaning soup off of yourself, your cabinets, and your ceiling, please, please, please do not 1). Fill your blender to the top with hot soup, and then 2). Put the lid on tightly, and then 3). Turn it on full blast. I’m telling you these things because 1). I like you, and 2). I don’t want your scalded self and your messed up kitchen on my conscience!

Instead, place the soup in the blender leaving plenty of room between the soup and the top. While holding the lid slightly ajar (I like to use a clean dishtowel for this), begin blending the soup on a low speed, allowing steam to escape through the partially open lid. Gradually increase speed and puree soup until smooth. Phew! That was a close one.

CHEDDAR SCALLION SCONES

Makes 12

Source: epicurious.com

  • 2 ¼ c. flour
  • 2 ½ t. baking powder
  • 2 t. sugar
  • ¾ t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 6 T. cold butter, diced into 1/2 “ cubes (Alcam butter is on sale)
  • 1 ½ c. sharp cheddar, grated
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped (on sale)
  • 1 c. well-shaken buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Blend in the butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in cheddar cheese and scallions. Add buttermilk and stir until just combined (I find my hands work much better than a spoon here).

Divide the dough into two equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, form one half into a neat ball, then flatten into a 1” disc. Slice the disc into six equal triangles, and transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake in the middle of the oven until golden, 18-20 minutes. Serve them hot!

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous | December 15th, 2009