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Food for the soul - Hearty Minestrone with warm Herb Breadsticks

It is getting unreasonably cool out here. There was that lovely summer, then we ever so slightly flirted with beautiful fall and now it has all frosted over, almost. It is even snowing in some parts! Can you believe that?! Hey you, up there: "It's only October!! Lighten up, won't ya!". Oh well... siggh, like that' going to work.

But, what does help, is hot hot food, especially the slurpy variety. I am not really a soup person. In India, they are usually served as an appetizer and I felt that all that volume took away from my enjoyment of the main course. So, soup was the thing that kept me from the real food and inevitably was sent back by me untouched. Until I came to the US and discovered the joys of a hearty soup that was as warming as it was satiating!

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And, what better than eating it with warm, fresh and well-buttered bread??! None, I say! The bread alone will win me over (you know my love affair with fresh bread :)). Ok, all that rambling start was to say that I made soup and breadsticks for dinner.

Minestrone is one of flexible Italian soups that are so easy on the cook. The list of ingredients is whatever firm vegetable you have on hand and canneloni beans to give the soup that heartiness; herbs to flavor and you are done! I made mine with carrots, potatoes, celery and beans flavored by a mix of Italian herbs. It doesn't get any simpler, does it?!


To go with that I made herb and parmesan breadsticks. I'll tell you a little secret. Made in larger sizes, they are fantastic for sandwiches; crusty on top and soft and spongy on the inside. I had one for lunch with peppercorn turkey, shaved onion and a streak of mayo. Perfect!

This post is also in support of BloggerAid Changing the Face of Famine. It is a community of international food bloggers determined to make a difference in aid of world famine. This month, as part of raising awareness about child nutrition and the School Meals Program, I am serving my soup in a cup to represent feeding one child a healthy and nutritious meal at school.

Also, this wonderful group of food bloggers have put together a cookbook, which is going to the printers very soon! So, here is wishing that the book is a huge success. Which means, all you readers out there, please do buy the book when it hits the stores and help us in our cause to feed every child.

On a related note, I would like to introduce the The Cookbook People who are donating cookbook software to BloggerAid (Imagine! you can inundate your friends and family with your many many recipes!!). They are also generously donating $20 to the School Meals Program for every BloggerAid member who includes them in their post.

Herb and Parmesan Breadsticks with Sea Salt crust
(10 bread sticks or 4 individual sandwich rounds)

1-1/2 cup bread flour
1 heaping tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 T dried herb mix (I used oregano, thyme and rosemary)
1/4 cup grated parmeggiano reggiano
1/2 cup water at 110 F
1 T + 1 tsp melted butter
sea salt for garnish

In a mixing bowl, add the yeast and sugar to the warm water and let sit for 5-6 minutes till the mixture is cloudy. Add in everything else reserving 1 tsp of butter for later. Mix and knead the dough until you get a pliable, smooth dough.

Dump dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 10 pieces. Roll into 4 inch logs. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and let rest in a warm place for atleast 30 minutes until it has double in volume.

Note: If you are making individual sandwich rounds, divide dough into four and shape as desired before allowing to double.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bursh the tops with melted butter and sprinkle sea salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes until light golden in color. Cool on rack. Serve warm.

Minestrone Soup

1 medium onion, finely diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 large chunk of ginger, grated
2 sticks celery, finely diced
1 cup carrots, in chunks
1/2 cup potatoes, in chunks
1 can cannelolini beans, drained and washed
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
2 cups vegetable/chicken broth
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 T Italian seasoning
2 dry bay leaves
1 heaping tsp cumin powder
parmeggiano rind (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil as needed
Sour cream and fresh parsley for garnish

Saute onions, celery and garlic until transluscent. Add the carrots and potatoes and saute for a couple of minutes. Add fennel seeds, herb mix, salt, pepper, bay leaves and the cheese rind (if using). Stir in crush tomatoes and broth. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add in the beans, reduce heat to low and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

Just before serving garnish with fresh parsley and serve with a dollop of sour cream with a side of warm bread.

Off to YeastSpotting ...

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