Regina Turner Simmons and her weekday minestrone/photo by sister Donna.

Regina Turner Simmons and her weekday minestrone. Photo by sister Donna.

Tuesday or Wednesday is usually soup day here, as it was last week when Donna’s sister, Regina, was here for Cakes 101, to teach me cake basics and all about the creams and curds that fill a cake and give it flavor. I wanted to be able to show what a proper cake could look like in the book we’re currently working on, and as Regina bakes wedding and special-occasion cakes in the Hudson Valley, we brought her in for a working visit.

We spend Thanksgiving with Donna’s family in Germantown, NY, and last year Regina had two big pots of soup on the stove as the family converged on the house, one of which was so beloved by my daughter that I asked Regina to make it while she was here. She asked only if I had some chicken stock; I told her that I’d made some from the chicken we’d had the night of her arrival. She said, “Oh, then the soup will be really good.”

Soup really is markedly better with your own chicken or vegetable stock, but in this case there are so many ingredients that water will do or, if you must, good quality store-bought “broth” (though I’d dilute it with water).

During a break in the action, Regina got the mise en place together (cut onions, herbs, tomatoes, etc.). It all fit on a small cutting board and was prepared long before the soup was ready (you could do it all a day ahead and refrigerate it if you need to get dinner on the table fast). The soup itself comes together in about 2o minutes. That and a salad and some good toasted bread made a hearty weekday dinner (and nourishing with all those vegetables and garbanzo beans). Thanks, Regina!

Auntie Reggie’s Minestrone

    • 4 (15-ounce) cans garbanzo beans (or 1 pound of dried garbanzos, cooked separately, which is my preference but we didn’t have time)
    • 1 onion, cut into small dice
    • 6 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • salt to taste (a couple of teaspoons)
    • 1 quart chicken stock or water
    • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
    • 1 tablespoon minced rosemary
    • 2 teaspoons cumin
    • black pepper to taste
    • soy sauce to taste (about a tablespoon)
    • 6 plum tomatoes, cut into small dice
    • 2 cups cooked little pasta, such as ditalini
    • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
    • grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving (optional)
  1. Purée half of the garbanzo beans and set aside.
  2. In a large heavy pot, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat, adding the salt as you do.
  3. When the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes, add the liquid, tomato paste, rosemary, cumin, pepper, soy sauce, garbanzo beans (both puréed and whole), and tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the pasta and continue to cook until the pasta is hot.
  5. Serve, topped with the parsley and grated Parm, if desired.

This will feed 6 to 8, and leftovers are great.

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© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.