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My Favorite Minestrone Soup and Beer Bread

>> Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's that time of year -- the kids are going back to school, football is starting, and fall is right around the corner.  While I love fall, I hate to rush it.  After all, in my opinion it is way too short and winter sets in well before I would like it to.  But mother nature rushes on and while we're enjoying these last days/weeks of summer I am starting to think about fall.

This is a perfect fall dinner.  It's easy, comforting, and filling.  The beer bread recipe is a nod to Tastefully Simple.  If you've ever been to one of their home parties, you've probably tasted it.  I have tried a few recipes to make it and this is the closest I've found.  This bread is super delicious, but it is a heavy bread.  Not your typical light yeast bread.

The soup is a recipe a former co-worker gave me, back in the days that my daily companions were over 4 feet tall!  It was a copy-cat recipe of Maggiano's soup that she found somewhere on the internet.  I wish I knew the source.

Beer Bread
3 cups self-rising flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
12 ounces beer {I used Bud Light Lime}
2 tablespoons melted butter
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Butter an 8×4 inch loaf pan and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and beer; mix well. The mixture will be sticky. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for about 55 minutes.
3. At the last three minutes of baking, remove from oven, brush the top of the loaf with the melted butter and return to oven for the final three minutes of baking.

Minestrone Soup
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup diced onion
1 medium carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon flour
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups Maggiano's Marinara Sauce
1 small baking potato, diced
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1/2 cup canned chick-peas, drained
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 dark green romaine lettuce leaves, diced
1/4 ounce fresh basil leaves (stems removed), chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus some for garnish
1/2 cup tubetti or other small pasta
In a large stock pot, melt butter over low heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and oregano. Cook, covered, until vegetables are soft but not browned, about 20 minutes.

Add flour and stir to form a paste. Add garlic, chicken stock, marinara sauce, potato and tomatoes. Raise heat and bring mixture to a boil.

Add zucchini, yellow squash, chick-peas, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Stir in romaine, basil and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

Reheat over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.

Divide pasta among individual serving bowls and ladle hot soup over pasta. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Servings: 8

My Notes:  I don't typically refrigerate for 12-24 hours.  Making the pasta separately keeps the soup from getting too thick.  I used dried basil.  And I use more Parmesan cheese -- this is the key to the flavor in my opinion!

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