Minestrone with black-eyed peas and kidney beans

This is Week #13 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2010.

We have settled into a Sunday routine at our house that I love. Church or family-time, depending on the week, followed by lunch and a family nap. After that, I retreat to the kitchen to prepare something for dinner while my boys play or lounge or watch golf or read or play on the computer or the Wii. Sometimes I turn on music while I cook. Other times I tune into the sounds coming from the living room as I thinly slice the white parts of a leek.

This was the scene at one end of the kitchen this past Sunday afternoon.

And this beautiful face was at the other end.

And this was the scene in the living room.

This Sunday routine that I love so much will sadly be ending soon. Starting in mid-April, my husband will be working his cute little butt off on the weekends doing this (photo courtesy Luke Evens) until the end of October.

While I take on the scene at home. You know, ignoring the laundry and dirty toilets while caring for my boys and cooking.

The important and yummy stuff! At least I've got my priorities straight.

One of my last carefree Sunday cookfests for a while involved lots of vegetables. I had never made Minestrone before, and I was most definitely pleased with the outcome of my first attempt at it. The top keywords that come to mind when describing it are: fresh, healthy, satisfying, delicious!

Start out by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot.


2 oz. pancetta, finely diced

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 celery ribs, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 leek, white and tender green parts thinly sliced (reserve the dark green top for later)

Salt & pepper

Cook over moderate heat until the vegetables are softened, 10 minutes.

Sometimes I am struck by how artistic food can be. Perhaps that is why I'm so fond of food blogging and food photography.

Add 1/2 pound coarsely shredded Savoy or other green cabbage and cook until slightly wilted, 1 minute.

Add a 14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes and cook for 5 more minutes.


1 cup dried black-eyed peas

2 quarts water

Bring to a boil.

Grab the reserved top portion of the leek and stuff the following inside its outer leaves:

3 parsley sprigs

1 bay leaf

3 thyme sprigs

Secure the leek with kitchen twine and add to the pot.

Cover and simmer over low heat until the black-eyed peas are tender, about 45 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, cook 2 oz. penne pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain and cool under running water and then slice the penne crosswise into 1/4-inch rings.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive in a skillet over moderately high heat. Add the penne to the skillet in a single layer.

Cook, turning once, until golden, about 5 minutes. Drain the penne rings on paper towels.

Once the soup is done simmering, discard the herbs and stir in:

One 15-oz. can red kidney beans, drained

Penne rings

1/2 cup shredded basil

Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

And to think that once upon a time, I, too, spent my weekends jumping out of airplanes. Ahh, those were the days.

Click here for a printable recipe!