Hi, my name is Colleen, and I'm a food hoarder.
It started innocently enough. I'd be at the store and wouldn't know if I had the appropriate canned good, frozen item or condiment for that night's dinner so I'd buy another one (or two). Now I have a pantry and freezer busting at the seams with cans and bags of beans. lentil, rice, cous cous, coconut milk (5 cans currently - chicken curry anyone?), olives, pasta, every style of canned tomato known to man (whole, diced, stewed, sauce, fire roasted, paste) and much, much more.
So began "Operation Pantry Cleanout".
The strategy is that every dinner has to revolve around a key ingredient from the pantry or freezer until I get through the majority of the food. I'm allowed to buy produce and any additional items required but I have to base meals off things I already have. It's a fun challenge and it's forcing me to try some new recipes. This particular soup was developed simply to use up a can of pinto beans that had been lurking around for a good year or so and one of many cans of whole peeled tomatoes I have double stacked, four rows deep. The soup was healthy and delicious. Can't wait to buy more pinto beans now. (There she goes again, the hoarder in me).
Operation Pantry Cleanout Minestrone
2 T olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 or 4 carrots, chopped
2 or 3 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 leek (white and light green part), sliced thin
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 14oz can of whole peeled tomatoes, crushed with your hand
8-ish cups chicken or veggie stock (I used homemade veggie stock made quickly the night before from veggies before they went bad)
1/2 - 1 t fresh oregano, minced
1 T parsley, minced
1 t basil, minced
1 small zucchini, sliced thin into coins or half circles
1-2 cups chopped cabbage
1/2 - 1 cup chopped spinach, rinsed three times
1 parmesan rind
1-2 cups noodles (I like a snail or shell shape noodle for this soup)
1 can kidney beans
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Fresh parmesan for serving
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute until they start to get soft. Add carrot, celery and leek. Sprinkle with salt and saute for a few minutes. Add garlic and saute, stirring regularly so it doesn't burn. Add tomatoes, crushing with your hand and their juices. Add the stock, herbs, zucchini, cabbage, spinach and parmesan rind. Sprinkle with 1 t salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes-1 hour. In a separate sauce pan, bring water to a boil. Add salt to the water and cook noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside. When you are 15 minutes out form serving, add noodles and kidney beans to the soup. Sprinkle with pepper and check if it needs more salt. When ready to serve, ladle into bowls and sprinkle with freshly grated paremesan and a tiny sprinkle of pepper.