This is what limbo feels like: quiet, lonely, and kinda scary. And it’s only the beginning. I know that soon life will feel a little fuller, we will find a school for Auralee (if anyone has tips on that feel free to share, by the way), Jeff and I will start exploring school and work options… and so forth. But right now I feel like a ghost, walking the streets of a new city with so few connections or obligations tying us to this place. It’s a little liberating, but mostly I look forward to feeling like a whole person again. Cooking helps.
I went back to the shuk this morning — it was a much less crowded, more leisurely experience than it was on Friday (shopping at the shuk on Friday is for die-hards, tourists, and people who forgot to get something on Thursday) — where I happily collected the ingredients for this minestrone soup with basil cream. The recipe was adapted from something I found online when searching for “middle eastern basil dishes” and reminded me a lot of the soups I used to make for Jeff when we lived in Beer Sheva back in the day. Welcome home.
Quiet Minestrone Soup with Basil Cream
This soup will not win any awards, and it is far too humble-looking to ever be featured on the front cover of Saveur, but it is simple, homey, and packed full of nutritious vegetables. Do not skip the basil cream (you can use soy yogurt or soy sour cream as well), it gives the soup body and really amps up the flavor.
for the soup
1 medium onion, chopped
3 small potatoes (yukon gold are good), chopped into soup-sized chunks
2 carrots, chopped
2 handfuls green beans, trimmed and cut into soup-sized pieces
1/2 a green cabbage, thinly sliced
3-4 plum tomatoes
water or vegetable broth
1 can (15 oz. or so) kidney or great northern beans
2 cups cooked pasta
for the basil cream sauce
handful of basil, finely chopped
2-3 Tbs parsley, finely chopped
1 cup shamenet, sour cream, yogurt or labane (I used goat ‘white cheese’, which is like thick yogurt)
grated hard cheese (parmesan, pecorino) to taste- optional
2-3 Tbs olive oil
Make the soup
In a soup pot, heat a couple tablespoons of oil (medium heat). Add chopped onions, potatoes and carrots, plus a little salt, pepper and paprika, and saute gently until onions begin to soften. Add the cabbage, beans and tomatoes and saute a few minutes more, stirring to coat everything with oil. Then add water or broth to cover all the veggies by a couple of inches. Simmer until everything is fork-tender, and then add more salt and pepper (to taste) and some parsley if desired. When you are ready to serve, add the cooked pasta (I used shells) and let it simmer with the soup for a minute or two.
Mix together all the ingredients for the basil cream. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a generous dollop of the cream.