Minestrone for All Seasons from "Home Cooking with Kate McDermott"

Seira Wilson on December 06, 2018

HomeCooking_200.jpgKate McDermott's last book, The Art of the Pie, is basically the pie bible, especially for those of us who find crust intimidating (because what do people say about a bad pie? That the crust was XYZ...). Now she's bringing us back into her kitchen with a new cookbook titled, Home Cooking with Kate McDermott.

Home Cooking with Kate McDermott is filled with family recipes, most of them one-dish meals that will please busy cooks and picker eaters alike. McDermott writes the way we talk to each other when sharing a recipe and her chapter titles include things like From the Land and Short and Sweet Treats. The chapter I'm gravitating to most these days is titled Wood Stove Days.

I asked McDermott what that chapter title means to her; why she chose it and the recipes you'll find there.  Below you'll find the answer in a piece written exclusively for the Amazon Book Review, along with the recipe for Minestrone Soup for All Seasons.

PS: I made this recipe at home and it was hearty and so flavorful that even my super skeptical husband (what? there's no meat?!) loved it.

HomeCookingWithKateMcDermott_MinestroneForAllSeasons300.jpgWood Stove Days: Stories and Recipes That Warm My Soul

The luxurious heat a wood stove provides has been a soul warming part of my life for over forty years. As both leaves and temperatures drop, and autumn days grow shorter, I kindle the first fire in my shiny red enameled wood stove, and enjoy casseroles, and steaming bowls of soups and stews, made with the harvest of vegetables I planted months earlier in my garden. When writing the chapter Wood Stove Days, I invite readers to pull up a chair at my table, and join my family and good friends, for a simple meal, and story or two.

All the recipes in Home Cooking are special to me—especially so the ones in the chapter Wood Stove Days. When I was writing them up, I could remember clearly being a little girl in the kitchen with my grandmother--how big and heavy the stew pot seemed when she took it out of the oven, the delicious smells, bubbling sounds, and the steam on the kitchen windows as soups simmered on our stovetop, as they still do in my own home today.

Passing on recipes, stories, and traditions is a wonderful way to keep a family history alive for future generations. I wish that my mom, dad, and grandmother were still around so I could hear their voices share some of our favorites just one more time. I’m sure there were many I never got to hear, too. When I was readying some of my own stories and family recipes for Home Cooking, I realized that there’s a very good chance that they will be shared and remembered long after I’m gone. Like the first wood stove fire of the season, the journey has warmed me to my soul. My hope is that they’ll warm and nourish my readers a bit, too.

-- Kate McDermott

Minestrone for All Seasons

I like the ease and flexibility of minestrone because the ingredients can change seasonally using what is ready to be harvested from the garden or the farmers’ market. In the spring, that could be spinach, asparagus, and peas; in summer, green beans and zucchini; and during fall and winter, squash, chard, and kale. My can opener comes in handy for whichever color beans—red, white, or black—are on my shelf. Make enough for leftovers since the flavors are even better on the second day.

Makes 6 generous servings

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
5 scallions, whites and greens, sliced
3 to 4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 medium carrots, chopped
3 to 4 red or yellow potatoes, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
One 15-ounce (425-g) can diced tomatoes
4 cups (1 l) chicken stock
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry red wine
1 teaspoon salt
One 15.5-ounce (439-g) can red, white, or black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 pound (230 g) asparagus or green beans, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
1 bunch greens (chard, spinach, or kale), cut into thin strips
1/4 cup (60 ml) pesto, either homemade (see page 149) or store-bought
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add the scallions and garlic, and sauté for 1 minute. Raise the heat to medium, add the carrots and potatoes, and cook for another 2 minutes while you stir everything around a bit.

Add the diced tomatoes, chicken stock, wine, and salt. Bring up to a boil, and immediately turn down to simmer. Cover and let cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the white, red, or black beans, and cook for 5 minutes more.

Add the asparagus or green beans, and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add the greens. Stir and cook for another minute or two.

Add the pesto and pepper. Taste, and add more salt if you like.

Serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top.

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