Wait….was that a chill I felt in the air? A freshening of the breeze? The scuttle of fallen leaves? It is here, people! Fall! The best season of the year.
Along with the fresh air, blowing out summer’s rank humidity, comes a fresh school year. A new schedule for us: homework, piano practice, swimming class (times two, one Tuesday and one Thursday) and a return to seated homecooked meals after a summer of sandwiches and pretzels by the pool.
At times like these, I’m much more likely to reach for a comforting family favorite, leaving the experiments for less-hectic days. Midweek Minestrone is a warm meal-in-a-bowl, crammed with vegetables and protein, garlicky and a little spicy from the sausage, just waiting for a chunk of crusty bread to dunk on in. It comes together in a low maintenance steps, with lots of time between them for helping with math or admiring an acorn collection. It improves with a day or 3 in the fridge. Mmmm….soup is good food.
3-4 links Italian sausage-hot or sweet-casings removed
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 cups (1 large or 2 medium) chopped zucchini
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings (or use plain, and add some oregano, maybe a little fennel)
3 cups chicken stock
1 14-ounce can white beans
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
grated parmesan cheese, for serving
Crumble the sausage into a large dutch oven, over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, brown the sausage, then transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat (if you are using a lower fat sausage, you may actually need to add a splash of olive oil) and add the chopped onion to the pan. Cook down the onion for 10-15 minutes, until starting to caramelize. Add the zucchini, garlic and salt, and cook until zucchini has given up some of its liquid. Add tomatoes, stock and reserved sausage, bring to a boil, and reduce heat. Simmer for 10-20 minutes, until zucchini is very tender. Add beans and vinegar, warm through, and taste for seasoning; balance flavors with salt and black pepper. Serve piping hot with parmesan cheese on top.