Esmeralda’s Homemade Minestrone Soup

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Ingredients

Serves 6 to 8
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
6 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 large stalks of celery , sliced
1 sprig Fresh Rosemary
1 dried bay leaf
1 (28 ounce) can chopped tomatoes, with their liquid
1 cup cooked garbanzos, drained/cooked
1 cup dried pasta (your choice)
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini, drained/cooked
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained/cooked
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese
Parmesan rind

Method

In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion and cook until translucent. Season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Add broth, tomato paste, parsley, basil, celery, bay leaf, parmesan cheese and tomatoes with their juice and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Add garbanzos, kidney and cannellini beans, pasta and simmer for another 20 minutes. Season with kosher salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls and serve grate cheese over the top. Serve with garlic toasted bread and salad of choice.

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Housemade Pretzel Bites

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1 cup warm water (100° to 110°F)
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
3 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour plus more for work surface
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, well softened
Grapeseed oil for bowl

Baking Pretzels:
8 cups water
1/2 cup baking soda
Pretzel salt or coarse kosher salt

Make Pretzel Dough:
Stir together warm water and yeast in a large bowl and let stand until a creamy beige foam develops on the surface, about 10 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.)

Meanwhile, in a smaller bowl, stir together flour, salt, and light brown sugar.

Add flour mixture and butter to yeast mixture, and stir together first with a wooden spoon and then with your hands, until it forms a dough. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough until it is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes, dusting with more flour as needed if dough sticks to work surface.

Transfer dough to a lightly oiled large bowl and turn over to coat with oil. Cover with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in a draft-free place at room temperature until doubled, 2 to 3 hours.

Punch down dough and divide into quarters. Form each quarter into 4 balls. Roll each ball into a 12-inch-long rope. Cut each rope into six (2-inch) pieces

Bake Pretzels:
Heat oven to 450°F with racks in upper and lower third. Well oil 2 large baking sheets (about 17- by 12- inches).

In a 4- to 5-quart saucepan, bring water and baking soda to a boil (mixture will be foamy at first, but foam will dissipate). Add 12 pretzel bites and cook 30 seconds (they will rise to the surface almost immediately), then transfer with a slotted spoon to baking sheets. Quickly sprinkle pretzel bites lightly on both sides with pretzel salt before they dry (so salt sticks). Repeat with remaining pretzel bites, returning water to a boil between batches.

Bake pretzel bites in oven, switching sheets between racks and rotating sheets halfway through baking, until deep chestnut brown, 8 to 10 minutes (watch closely toward end of baking; bites brown quickly in last few minutes). Immediately transfer pretzel bites to wire racks to cool.
Serves with a homemade cheese sauce
“That’s the Next Recipe” Stay tuned!

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