Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.


Posted: January 25, 2010 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Johanna | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments »

One of my major concerns when I started training for my upcoming half-marathon was nutrition. I didn’t want to sacrifice delicious food for concerns about calorie counts, grams of fiber, and all the other things that runners worry about. I also didn’t want to make food that would be healthy for someone burning a ton of calories, but not so healthy for say, Jesse, who isn’t experience a sudden upswing in number of calories burned.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been just trying to cook like normal, adding in breakfast every day and making darn sure that I pack my lunch if at all possible; but in the back of my mind has been the concern that I’m going to have to start thinking about this shit soon. And that, my darlings, is where this soup comes in:

This is a runner’s minestrone. And it’s equally delicious if you think running is crap. Or if thinking about running makes you tired. Vegetarian? Check! Protein? Chock-full-of beans – Check! Carbohydrates? Tiny pasta pearls – Check! And the bonus? It’s just darn delicious.

Runner’s Minestrone
1. Put a large soup pot on the stove, over medium heat. Throw in a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil. Meanwhile, dice an onion, chop 2 or 3 celery stalks, and 2 or so carrots (mine were no-joke-jumbo carrots). Basically you want equal volumes and sizes for onion, celery and carrot, although if the carrot pieces are bigger, there is no problem.
Put the mirepoix in with the butter and oil, add a sprinkling of salt, and let the veggies start to get coated in the fat and release all their delicious juices.
2. Open and sorta-drain a can of beans. I had ecuadorean beans on hand, which are basically just small red beans. But cannelini beans, black beans, kidney beans, or heck, even chickpeas, would be great here. Add the beans to the veggies once they’re starting to soften, along with a good pinch of red pepper flake, and some oregano if you’re fancy. Stir, and let the starchy bean liquid bind together everything already in the pot.
3. Pour in a can of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes, and stir. Then, add 4 cups of vegetable stock, and 2 cups of water. Bring the pot to a simmer, and let the flavors become friendly.

4. This is where you can get creative. I had curly kale, zucchini, and green beans on hand, as well as acini di pepe, which are the little teeny pasta pearls. Acini Di Pepe means peppercorns, basically, in Italian. You could use ditalini, or pastina (the little stars) or even some other shape, as long as they’re SMALL. You want the veggies to be the stars here. Chop up basically any veggies you like and have on hand. Put them in the pot, and once the soup has regained its simmer, throw in a few handfuls of pasta. I probably used between a quarter and half a cup of acini di pepe, which are super tiny.
5. Let things simmer away until the pasta is cooked. Serve with a solid grating of some parmesan cheese, and you have a beautiful, beautiful thing.
This soup kept me full and full of energy and ready to go through my whole Saturday long run. It was delicious. And I foresee a LOT of this in my future.
I’m going to be adding a new tag called “Run Fuel”, full of my finds and foibles in a search for good running fuel that is also delicious and healthy to feed to Jesse. It’ll be an adventure. :)

6 Comments on “Fuel”

  1. 1 Jesse said at 9:35 am on January 25, 2010:

    I suppose I could just start running.

  2. 2 Erin said at 10:23 am on January 25, 2010:

    I will be trying this.

  3. 3 Joh said at 12:34 pm on January 25, 2010:

    Erin – it’s great. And honestly, superfuel for runs!
    Jesse – you could definitely start running. Or I could find a middle ground. Or both. :)

  4. 4 adele said at 8:44 pm on January 26, 2010:

    You know, I usually find minestrone kind of bland and unsatisfying. This, however, looks damn good.

  5. 5 Mom J said at 8:07 am on January 27, 2010:

    Josie, this looks really good! I might even try making this on Saturday. I believe Trev will love it and Dad might even eat his veggies this way!!

  6. 6 Joh said at 7:20 pm on January 27, 2010:

    Y’know what would make this probably even better? Adding some roasted garlic to the liquids before simmering. Yum yum!!

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Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

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