Minestrone with Chickpeas and Rosemary Focaccia Bread

Tonight’s menu was a summery Minestrone with Chickpeas, from the September 2004 issue of Cooking Light, and homemade Rosemary Focaccia Bread.

Well.

The soup turned out pretty good.  Standard minestrone, except it didn’t have any pasta in it.  Eric Ripert and Tom Colicchio would NOT approve (you Top Chef fans know what I’m talking about!). Flavorful, and with ingredients I wouldn’t typically include (I’m talking to you, Mr. Eggplant).

The focaccia. Well, my well-intentioned husband again did not read the directions properly and salted the focaccia before the second rise.  The salt interacted and the bread wouldn’t rise again.  We figured we’d bake it anyway and see if maybe we could get some breadsticks or flatbread out of it.  Flavorwise, it was great.  Texture, not so much.  It was what you’d expect from dough that hasn’t risen properly.  Very dense but the edges and corners crisped up nicely, yet still had the doughy top.  Not the focaccia I’d been looking forward to all day, but an acceptable alternative.  Knowing the rosemary came from our garden yesterday made it even better.

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Minestrone with Chickpeas and Rosemary Focaccia Bread

Ingredients

  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 cup chopped eggplant
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped yellow squash
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 14-oz cans vegetable broth
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp pesto
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 15.5-oz cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups chopped spinach (about 1 ounce)

Instructions

  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat (I used a Dutch oven). Coat pan with cooking spray.
  2. Add eggplant and next 5 ingredients (through garlic); saute 4 minutes or until onion is tender.
  3. Stir in broth, tomatoes and bay leaf and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
  5. Add parsley and next 5 ingredients (through chickpeas); cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in spinach; serve immediately.
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A few changes I made:

  • I didn’t use a bay leaf. Didn’t have any and didn’t figure it’d make that big of a difference.
  • I used dried parsley and oregano, even though I have perfectly good parsley and oregano plants in our garden.  Just didn’t plan properly.  Oops.  So I reduced the amount by about half, and made sure to crush it between my fingers to release the flavors and oils.
  • I don’t have sea salt, so I used kosher salt.  Not sure it made any difference.
  • I forgot to chop my spinach.  I just used the baby spinach in a bag.  It was fine.
  • I kept my veggies fairly chunky.  I think next time I’d cut them a little smaller.

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