Random Bag Night – A Minestrone of Sorts

Back home after the Christmas holiday and we are armed with a leftover ham bone courtesy of my in-laws. The ham was delicious, so we were happy to take the bone home to use for soup. Additionally, I think we both packed on a few pounds over the holiday so we were hoping for something relatively healthy for dinner tonight. One of my favorite ways to cook is something my husband and I have come to call “Random Bag Night”, meaning you go into the cabinets and refrigerator and try to concoct something out of what you find and it is less about having a recipe as it is about just being creative. Tonight’s random bag event was a minestrone soup of sorts which you can make using any number of ingredients and with the ham bone, it would be elevated from a mere vegetable potpourri. The following is the list of ingredients:

Olive oil to coat the pan

1 small onion, chopped

4 leeks, chopped

 3 carrots, chopped

1 stalk celery. chopped

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 handful dried porcini or other smokey mushroom (add more if you are not in possession of a ham bone)

1 cup white wine

2~3 cups of chicken broth (we keep store bought stock on hand at all times)

1 can kidney beans

1 can cannelini beans

1 zucchini

1 bunch of swiss chard, chopped

1 can diced tomatoes

2-3 cups of water

salt & pepper to taste

sprinkle of Parmesan cheese

So we cheated a little this time and bought the leeks, chard, zuchini and canned beans, but everything else was in the house already. I started by adding some olive oil to the stock pot, and then adding the leeks, onion, celery, carrot, rosemary and mushrooms to the pot, on med-high heat with a little salt until the leeks and onion started to soften. I then added the ham bone and the wine and allowed it to cook down for another few minutes. After that, I added all the other ingredients and brought the whole thing to a boil. Lowered the heat to simmer and let it go for about an hour or so.  We added some elbow macaroni at the end and some parmesan cheese after we put the servings into our bowls for some extra flavor.

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Some variations you can do – if you have no ham bone, add more dried mushrooms or even fresh portobello or more beans to give the soup some heft. You can make it vegetarian by leaving out the ham bone and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. At the end, when you are serving, you can add a dollop of pesto to give the dish an extra kick. And you can add any and every vegetable, including potatoes, to give the soup your own spin. It’s relatively healthy, low fat and an easy one pot dish.

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