During cold New England winters, I like to host friends for casual dinners where I serve either a few soups or stews to the group. All very informal and relaxing as we enjoy spending time together with friends. I’m always searching for new soup recipes to add to my repertoire.
Recently I was reading about the Blue Zones, areas across the world where the inhabitants live healthy and active into old age. Some natives even live to be over 100! I was fascinated with the notion that diet and activity played such a powerful role in extending longevity past the normal life expectancy experienced in the United States.
Hearing my fascination with the Blue Zones, my husband gave me the Blue Zone Cookbook for Christmas. I tweaked the Minestrone soup recipe from Sardinia to accommodate ingredients readily available and what I like to add to soup. I love easy – I tell everyone that I’ve changed my middle name to easy – and this soup is delicious and easy!
I’m planning on serving this Minestrone soup as my vegan option at my next friends’ dinner. Along with a variety of soups, I’ll make a large salad, sourdough bread and serve wine!
I believe that entertaining can be as elaborate or as simple as you desire. Hosting a soup party couldn’t be simpler and fun for all that attend. No-fuss, no unnecessary work leaving the host and hostess free to enjoy guests.
I prepare the food in advance and set my soup in pots on the stove, simmering on low. A buffet table in my kitchen is set up with bowls, plates, salad, and bread. At a small table, I set up wine, beer, sparkling water and soda with glasses and an ice bucket. Cut up lemon and lime also are on the beverage table. Everyone helps themselves and I have seating in my dining room or we sit in the family room around the fire. *
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups onions, chopped, 2-3 medium onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup celery, chopped
8 cups (2 32 fl. oz. cartons) unsalted vegetable stock, I like Kitchen Basics
1 cup carrots chopped
2 cups green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup ditalini pasta
2 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried anise
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
grated parmesan cheese, optional
Heat oil and onions in large stockpot cooking for 4-5 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and celery cook another 2 minutes, do not brown garlic.
Pour in the stock and stir to blend. Add remaining ingredients to the pot. Turn heat on high and bring to a boil then turn to low. Cover and simmer for one hour.
Serve with grated parmesan cheese.
If you don’t use all the soup freeze in individual contains for future meals.
*For casual entertaining I love to use mix and match dinnerware and glassware. Over the years I’ve collected vintage milk glass pieces from antique stores and I also supplemented with inexpensive white dishes and serving pieces from Home Goods. For glasses, I’ve found retro style glasses at stores like Anthropology and Williams Sonoma which I just love. Add a table cloth, candles and fresh flowers for a fabulous tablescape.