Thursday, November 25, 2010

Minestrina - or "leftover cauliflower soup"

This soup came out of the necessity of not being able to waste one little edible thing.
This is made out of leftover stock from cooking cauliflower (or in my case, romanesco broccoli) and can also be made using a mixture, or even just broccoli.

The method is to not throw away any water you might have used to boil or steam the veggies, but keep them in the pot and simply remove the veggies using a slotted spoon.  Any leftover cauliflower can be thrown back in to the stock later :)

This soup is incredibly delicious, and definitely one of our family favourites.  Its simplicity makes it ideal for a quick "after work" dinner the day after you've made your average "meat and veggies" meal.  This dish was also often used by the family to be the "starter" soup, preceding a simple meals of steamed/boiled veggies and possibly a small piece of meat, or maybe even just some tuna (out of a tin) or a hard boiled egg.

Minestrina is something my nanna made (although she used cauliflower only, never anything else), and I presume her mum made before her. 

  • Leftover "stock" from boiling or steaming brassicas - cauliflower, broccoli or a mixture (today i used the leftover stock from romanesco broccoli, as well as adding the leftover stock from boiling some brussel sprouts)
  • Some leftover florets of cauliflower
  • 3 rounded teaspoons of Kunserva/tomato paste
  • Small amount (about 50 grams) small pasta, either baby macaronis or cut up spaghetti or tiny stars, any shape really.
  • Milk
  • Ricotta, about 50g per person, mashed into little chunks.
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • grated cheese, to serve
  • 1 fresh gbejna per person (optional)***

Bring the stock back to the boil and add all the leftover florets.  Normally to serve as a veggie, I boil or steam until only just tender, but for a soup, they need to be cooked more.  Simmer gently for a few minutes until they are easily and roughly able to be mashed.  Do not pulverise, leave them as tiny mini florets.
Add the tomato paste, and bring back to a rolling boil.  If there isn't much water, add some more and some salt or a stock cube.

If you're not going to serve this right away, cool and refrigerate (for up to a few days) at this point.  Cook the pasta and add milk/cheese just before serving. 

Just before serving:
Turn up the heat and when the water is boiling, add the pasta.  Stir well and cook for a bit less than the time according to the pack (maybe 2 minutes less).
As soon as the pasta is just about cooked, add a decent dash of milk and the mashed up ricotta, stir, ensuring the milk and cheese are well heated through. ***(see below if adding gbejna)
Not necessarily the best looking soup but the taste is wonderful!
To serve:
I like to take out some of the solids (veggies, pasta, ricotta) with a slotted spoon, place some in each bowl, then top up with the liquid.

***As i'm serving it as a light but whole meal today, i'm adding one fresh gbejna to the dish per person.  To do this, place the gbejna gently into the soup after you've added the milk and ricotta.  Do not stir, but allow to simmer for 2 minutes until the gbejna is soft and melty.  Then carefully spoon one into each bowl and pour soup over it to serve.

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