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Friday, March 18, 2011

Zippy Bean Minestrone

I just crowed over this recipe. 

It was really good, but more than that, I got the most gigantic kick out of the fact that it was made entirely of leftovers.  If you read my blog, you'll know that I just finished an epic freezer cooking session.  I had leftover beans, hamburger, and pasta sauce from lasagna.  I had leftover frozen mixed vegetables from some other recipe and just about everyone has some leftover pasta in their pantries, right?  So when I saw this recipe for Zippy Bean Minestrone in The Bean Cookbook, a compilation of recipes from the Northarvest Bean Growers Association, I was stoked.  I had everything I needed right in my fridge and pantry!  No shopping necessary.  The original recipe doesn't call for the hamburger but calls for a can of pork and beans.  Feel free to use their recipe or mine. 

Zippy Bean Minestrone

1/2 lb hamburger
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups pinto beans
1 package (16-oz) frozen mixed vegetables
1 jar (15 1/2 oz) spaghetti sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup elbow macaroni (or other smaller pasta)
1 can (10 1/2 oz) beef broth

1.  In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Cook hamburger until cooked through and no longer pink.  Meanwhile, cook vegetables in a microwave safe dish with two teaspoons of water for 6 to 8 minutes, until thawed.

2.  Combine all ingredients, including the thawed vegetables, with the cooked hamburger.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes.  Add water if needed.

The Verdict:  Yeah, seriously, that's the soup.  And if you don't add the hamburger, it's more complicated to brush your teeth than it is to put this recipe together.  (Oh yeah, and it tastes good to boot.)

My husband and I enjoyed it.  I was nervous at first that you don't add any spices, but you don't need to if you're using jarred sauce as all the flavor you need is right there.  Once I tasted it and liked it, I was over the moon.  I'd created this really great soup with this-and-that in the fridge that might have otherwise been thrown out.  That often happens, especially with the pasta sauce.  I buy the giant jar to make two lasagnas but never use the whole thing because I forget about it.  Problem solved.

I was really nervous about my son liking it.  I prayed that the beans and meat, two of his favorites, would get us through the meal.  But miraculously, he loved it!  I picked out any obvious giant green beans floating in it to avoid the "I don't like green stuff" fight we have 90 times a week and ladled his heavy with the solids, rather than the broth.  I also greased the wheels with a nice, crusty bread with plenty of butter; he's a bread maniac.  His response to the meal was, "Tasty!"  (I'd suggest a crusty bread regardless if you have a picky eater in your house or not.  It's the perfect accompaniment to this soup.)

Would I make this again?  Yes, especially with leftovers.  That was more fun than this nerd can handle.

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