Here's an 'original' idea: fresh, clean, and healthy eating for the New Year! I'm sick of the heavy foods from the Holidays (although they were great going down), and my liver is flat out exhausted (the cocktails were good going down too)! So this week it's time for a new leaf. Today I'm making one of my favorite soups: Minestrone with Basil. I pulled this recipe off of Epicurious about a year ago, and I think I've probably made it 10 times. It's fresh, lowfat, filling and healthy all at the same time.
Served alongside the soup are some yummy Cheddar Scallion Scones (also from Epicurious). No, these aren't light, "clean", or nutritious, but we're being so well behaved with our healthy soup that we're allowed to have something just slightly naughty to dunk.
Minestrone with Basil
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
6 c. chicken stock, plus an additional cup if needed to thin
2 c. shredded green cabbage
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 medium potato, peeled and left whole
1 small potato, peeled and diced
1 T. good olive oil
1 1/2 T. minced garlic
1 t. salt
1/2 c. small shell pasta
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil, plus additional sprigs for garnish if desired
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Place beans in a large Dutch oven. Add stock and next 11 ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until all vegetables are tender, about an hour.
Transfer 2 cups of soup and the whole potato to blender and puree. Return puree to soup in pot. Add pasta and 1/4 c. basil; simmer uncovered until pasta is cooked through and flavors blend, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in remaining basil, serve with Parmesan sprinkled on top.
Cheddar Scallion Scones
**Note: As originally written, these were supposed to be drop biscuits. After seeing a tip for "no roll" biscuits in Cooks Country Magazine, I've used that method ever since. It's explained in my modified version of the recipe below.
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 t. baking powder
2 t. sugar
3/4 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
6 T. (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 oz. shredded Cheddar (about 1 1/2 c.)
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 c. well shaken buttermilk
Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, then blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in Cheddar and scallions. Add buttermilk and stir until just combined.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into two equal balls. Press each ball into a 6" round. Using sharp knife, slice each round three times, to create six scone shaped wedges out of each round. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and bake in the middle of oven until golden, about 15-20 minutes.