Friday, January 2, 2009

First Day of 2009,

Great start to the year, I spent New Years Day blowing my nose. No, not a cold, allergies again. New Year's Eve was pretty good, we had dinner which we enjoyed together with a bottle of Rosenblum Zinfandel (no not White Zinfandel) and we watched some TV. At around 10 p.m. we got a phone call from sinlaw (for them it was 3 a.m. in the UK) and exchanged greetings with he and his wife. He assured me he was going to call at 10 a.m. (5 a.m. our time) but he never did. The pair of them didn't sound as though they were in much pain *g*. As for us, we watched the big ball drop in Time Square and celebrated with champagne (well Matt had gin). Then, as I said, I woke up with allergies. Not me in the picture, but its how I was all day long. In the evening we watched Great Performances on Public Television - a Strauss concert from Vienna hosted by Julie Andrews. It was very good. Dedicated to Joseph Haydn who has an anniversary this year. 200 years since he died. They also played the final movement of Haydn's Farewell Symphony where all the players walk out carrying their instruments when they have finished playing. It was originally done to convey to the king that they wanted to go home to their wives and children. It was quite funny and the conductor played up that he didn't know it was going to happen. In the morning I received a recipe from Mushrooms Canada which I thought sounded really good so decided to make it for lunch. I had to adapt it a little as I didn't have any mushrooms - ran out the day before. I also used prosciutto which wasn't as good as using bacon. However, the end result of it all was excellent. I forgot, I used black eyed peas too instead of mixed beans. We both had a bowl and a half and it was very filling and satisfying. I highly recommend it. Minestrone Soup with Mushrooms * Mixed beans are a medley of kidney beans, chick peas, romano beans and black eye peas 4 slices pancetta or bacon, diced 2 Tbs olive oil (optional) 2 medium onions, diced 2 large carrots, coarsley chopped 2 celery stalks, sliced 2 garlic cloves, minced 10 cups chicken broth 1 can tomatoes (28 oz/796 mL) 1 cup whole wheat macaroni or shells 250 mL 1 lb sliced mushrooms (about 6 cups/1.5 L) 1 tsp Each dried thyme and basil leaves 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano 1 can mixed beans* (19 oz/540 mL) drained and rinsed 4 cups torn fresh spinach leaves 1 tsp hot pepper sauce (optional) 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese In large soup pot cook bacon until fat is rendered (if it is very lean add 1-2 tbsp (15-25 mL) oil. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic; sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add broth, bring to boil and then lower heat; simmer covered for 10-12 minutes or until vegetable are almost tender. Stir in tomatoes, (breaking up with a spoon) macaroni, mushrooms, herbs and beans. Cook covered over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until pasta and mushrooms are cooked. Taste and add hot sauce if desired. Just before serving stir in spinach leaves. Pass Parmesan cheese to sprinkle generously on top. Tips: For easy preparation chop all vegetables in food processor. Make the soup a few days ahead and refrigerate covered or freeze but don’t add spinach until it is reheated ready to serve, so that it keeps it’s colour. Source: Mushrooms Canada Minestrone is a thick Italian vegetable soup and is an easy way to feed a gang. Leftovers even taste better the next day. Vary the beans and pasta as desired. Variation: Substitute stewed, herbed or diced tomatoes for whole tomatoes. Have a great day.


  1. Belated Happy New Year to you and Mike, Jo! I've been nose down tail up getting stuff ready for The Specusphere, which goes up tomorrow. I still have two reviews to rwrite, so back into it...

  2. Thanks Satima. Will look forward to reading Specusphere.

  3. Hi Jo,
    I hope that you enjoyed our Minestrone Soup Recipe! It is just as delicious without mushrooms. I will have to give your adaptations a try! Thanks for sharing.
    - Brittany

  4. Thanks for dropping by Brittany. I have now made that recipe a couple of times, the second time with all the lovely mushrooms in it. It was delicious and I will definitely be making it again.