Actually, that’s not true; it’s probably more accurate to say all I do is cook, at least in my scant spare time. Between day job, freelance work, early mornings at the gym, and the holiday season social crush, I have very little time to reflect or observe lately. But I did make a delicious, hearty-but-light minestrone last night, partly as an antidote to the ridiculous amount of cheese and other rich foods I ate between Thursday and Sunday. It’s adapted from a New York Times article about how to work more cabbage into your diet without offending the neighbors. So I share it here with you all:

  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 large celery stalk, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas
  • 1 small head of cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1 chunk of Parmesan rind (optional, but it makes a big difference in flavor)
  • handful of chopped herbs (basil, parsley, etc.)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • scant cup of ditalini or other small, dried pasta

Sauté onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and zucchini in a tablespoon or two of olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes, until softened. Meanwhile, seed tomatoes (I just squish them over a strainer, with a bowl to catch the juices); add smushed tomatoes and juice to veggies. When that starts to simmer, drain and rinse chickpeas and add to mixture. Let simmer for about 10 minutes. Add broth, cabbage, herbs, pepper, and cheese rind; lower heat and simmer for about an hour. Shortly before soup is ready, cook pasta in a separate pot until just al dente; drain and add to soup. Simmer a few more minutes, until pasta finishes cooking. Discard cheese rind, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with freshly grated cheese or a drizzle of good olive oil.

This tastes even better the next day (we had it for dinner tonight, too).