Before I get into the glories of rosemary, I want to write a few things about the recent Arizona tragedy and President Obama’s speech. (I’m sure readers know the details of what happened last Saturday in Arizona. No need to go into them here.) First, I was moved by the beauty and the eloquence of President Obama’s speech. Words do indeed matter, and his did a great deal to soothe not only a grieving city and state but also a grieving nation. Second, even though I’ve never been farther west than Indiana and have never seen Arizona, I felt as though their hurt was my hurt and their sorrow was my sorrow. A good reminder as to how even though we are a big country with many differences, we are the United States. Third, even though I had never heard of Gabrielle Giffords before the attack, I was rooting for her as soon as the news of the shooting came out, and this morning it cheered me to hear that she had raised her arm and opened her eyes. Fourth, and I’m happy to be able to honestly write this, even though I am a liberal Democrat, I would have felt the same way about Giffords had she been a Republican.
I’ll end with a quotation from my friend Brian Hannon, who lives in Scotland. “We have a houseguest staying with us right now from Israel and she asked my roommate Katherine and I, ‘How is that Americans always talk about it being such a big place and being so different from each other, but then when I listen to you two talk about America, you always say We.’ And I said, ‘Because despite our differences, sometimes we’re just all Americans. It’s as simple as that.’”
Now, onward to rosemary. First of all, it has such a pretty name, and that alone is almost reason enough to love it. But rosemary is more than just a pretty name. It has a clean, strong flavor that peps up a variety of food—soups, pasta, roasted vegetables, and cream cheese spreads. Because of its strong flavor, a little goes a long way, which turns out to be a strength rather than a weakness. This means that fresh rosemary, which comes in those rather expensive little plastic packs, can actually have a place in a frugal cook’s kitchen. Out of one small pack, rosemary can add flavor to a lot of meals. Finally—the cherry on the sundae, so to speak—rosemary lasts well over a month in the refrigerator.
So let’s hear it for rosemary. It is my herb of choice for the winter, and I always have some in the refrigerator. (I also keep parsley, rosemary’s more modest sister, on hand. While it doesn’t keep quite as long as rosemary, it lasts longer than other herbs, and it is reasonably priced.)
Yesterday was a snowy day in central Maine. As I indicated in yesterday’s post, I made a minestrone-like soup for our supper. How nice it was to have this after an hour or so of shoveling. There is something very fine about eating a hot, flavorful soup on a cold winter’s night.
One word about the amount of beans used in this soup. I took two packs of beans out of the freezer—garbanzo and kidney beans. As it turned out, I had way too many kidney beans to use all of them in the soup, and tonight we will be having burritos with what’s leftover. So I threw in beans until I got a thickness I liked, and I did the same with some small pasta I had. (Yes, Shannon, I know you hate it when I do this.) So the amounts of beans will be an approximation. Remember, soup should be as thick as you like it, despite what the recipe calls for.
Rosemary tomato soup with beans and pasta
3 small carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons of oil
1 can of diced tomatoes, 28 ounces
3 cups of water
3 cups (or so!) of beans—garbanzo, black beans, kidney beans, whatever! All would work well. My guess is two, maybe, three cans. Again, it depends on how “beany” you like your soup.
½ cup of small, uncooked pasta. However, I think macaroni would work well, too. Ditto for penne.
1 tablespoon of minced rosemary
3 tablespoons of minced parsley
Pepper to taste
Parmesan or Romano for grating when soup is done
In a stockpot, heat the oil and add the carrots, celery, and onion. Stirring frequently, cook until the vegetables are soft, about ten minutes. Near the end, add the garlic and cook for a minute or so. Add the tomatoes and the water and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for at least forty-five minutes so that all the flavors blend. Add the beans and let them simmer for about ten minutes. Add the rosemary and pasta. When the pasta is cooked, add the parsley. If the soup seems too thick to you, add a bit more water. Then, pepper to taste and grated cheese when the soup is in bowls.