Michele is on a brief sabbatical, so the rest of us are picking up the next three weeks for her. Fortunately for me (Deborah), I get to make Minestrone.
Is there any smell more comforting and inviting than a pot of homemade vegetable soup gently bubbling on the stove?
Many of us make our vegetable soups almost without thought. Our hands know what to do, and our minds are free to wonder as we cook.
In being forced to read the recipe, follow it exactly, and concentrate on what I was doing, I experienced a minor revelation.
I realized that, as an experienced home cook, I put my ingredients into the pot in a specific order, even when I’m not thinking about it. That order is based on how long it takes the ingredient to begin softening.
I thought, “How many people just learning to cook, don’t realize this?”
“How many less exacting recipes don’t bother to detail the order of the ingredients and the amount of time one should wait between ingredients?”
And, again I am reminded of the simple beauty in Marcella’s teaching.
I have one significant disagreement with her, however.
She offers as optional what I consider to be an indispensable ingredient…the crust of a piece of parmigiano-reggiano.
The smell I spoke of at the beginning of this post? It owes its luxuriousness to the presence of the cheese crust. Please, don’t try to save time and money by leaving it out.