The are many similarities between Southerners and Italians…we both like to talk excitedly and passionately about things we feel strongly about…we both love to cook and truly believe that food can heal among other things…a broken heart, the flu and any sort of general malaise. A general (February dark wet days) malaise seems to have fallen over many folks I have talked to this week. Nothing specific…just a general funk!
I suggest to cure your February Funk make this Minestrone Soup and Cornbread. Make a big pot to eat on for days. Make a big skillet of cornbread as well. I am sure you will brighten up and feel happier right away!
My well-seasoned Lodge Cast Iron Skillet gives my recipe a very nice crust. A cast iron skillet like this one is a must for making true Southern cornbread.
Minestrone Soup, Italian for a myriad of vegetable soups, can have pretty much whatever you want in it. One thing I always add is the leftover rind of Parmesan Cheese. Don’t throw them away as they add lots of flavor to any soup. I combine canned beans, fresh squash, canned or fresh tomatoes and chicken stock as the base for my version. You can add pasta or not. Experiment to come up with your own style.
When I eat hearty winter soups like Minestrone a skillet of cornbread is part of the picture. Experimenting with a basic cornbread recipe is my usual approach. This week I had lots of Feta and shredded-herbed Parmesan cheeses left over from a photo shoot.
A good olive oil is what I put into the skillet while it is heating up. The cornbread will have a very crispy outside crust and stay moist inside if you get the skillet and oil very, very hot in a 400 degree oven before adding the batter. See what I mean below?
Cook. Eat Well. Talk about stuff. Cook some more. You will feel better in the morning!
Hearty Minestrone Soup and Feta-Parmesan Cornbread
Ingredients for Minestrone Soup:
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 zucchini squash, cut into half moons
- 2 yellow squash, cut into half moons
- 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 large can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 to 2 Parmesan cheese rinds
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 cups cooked chicken shredded (optional)
Ingredients for Cornbread:
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 Tbsp dried Italian herb mixture
- 1/4 cup olive oil + more for skillet
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk
Directions for Soup:
- Heat olive oil in a heavy soup pan over medium high heat. Add diced onions and cook until translucent.
- To soup pan add broth, zucchini and yellow squash, cannellini beans, kidney beans, black beans, tomatoes and Parmesan rinds. Bring to a boil then turn heat to low and cook for 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper and red pepper flakes and shredded chicken if using.Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Also you can add a bit more broth or water if soup gets too thick. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
Directions for Cornbread:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While oven is heating add a bit of olive oil to a cast iron skillet and place in oven to get very hot.
- Blend together, using a whisk, the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt.
- Add in the feta and Parmesan cheeses and the Italian herb mixture.
- To dry ingredients add 1/4 cup olive oil, egg and milk. Stir until blended.
- Remove hot skillet from oven and add cornbread batter. Place back in oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until puffy and golden brown. Serve hot cut with Minestrone Soup.
Teresa Blackburn http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com www.foodonfifth.com