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Giada De Laurentiis is one gorgeous woman. If I were ever around during the day like an unemployed middle manager guy or perhaps a wife on her day off and I actually got The Food Channel as part of my cable or satellite package anymore, I’d just watch that show to admire here lovely…professionalism.

And maybe count her teeth. When she smiles, there are teeth all over my screen. What’s up with that? A big, toothy smile! If I were to win their next food network star show through some fluke, could I get teeth like hers? Ahhhh. Well. The thing is, to cut back on costs as well as having to listen to Guy Fieri say ‘Flavor town!’ for the gazillionth (its in spellcheck, look it up) time, we don’t get much more than a dozen channels now on our idiot box, and that suits me. If I need a Giada tooth fix, there are always the Internet sites dealing with food. Sigh.

Today was Sunday and as my wife and I are still without a car (long story–we are probably getting a new used vehicle in a month or two and are enjoying our weekly walks, bus rides, and BART trips all over the SF Bay Area), I started thinking about dinner by at least 11AM as I sipped coffee at a small cafe on Piedmont Street in Oakland, waiting for her to finish her sudden doctor’s appointment (don’t worry, she fine, and I’ll let you know when the meds wear off) when I thought…soup. For California weather, it was pretty cool and I was actually reminded that it was winter time. Soouuup.

Winter Minestrone Soup. In this case, as prepared by my favorite big tooth Italian star chef.

I liked how the recipe started out, with a nice mirepoix (yes, I know that’s a French term–can’t recall the Italian version of that word right now) of garlic, pancetta, onion, celery and carrots all sautéed in a bit of olive oil; in this particular case, my all purpose cast iron Dutch oven which I purchased through craigslist for $15 from an elderly woman who found it too heavy.

Immediately following this one adds the diced potato and green leafy veggies (kale, chard, spinach…whatever floats your boat), and then the canned tomatoes, canned cannelini beans, with a bit of the last item puréed with some of the broth to ultimately thicken the soup. At first I wondered why there was no pasta in this (no reason you couldn’t use it) but the potato was certainly enough for starchiness so no need to overdo it (besides, as we grow older adding carbs to your diet isn’t as advisable as when you’re a young tough kid who hasn’t yet reached the point where he hasn’t yet clued in to the fact that he’s no longer 16 and can’t eat like that anymore without blimping out).

True to the recipe, this didn’t take more than an hour to finish, and given that it provides up to six servings, if you’re a family of two like my wife and I, that means leftovers for a few days. The most clever aspects to this dish’s presentation revolved around the blending of the cannelini beans to bring some smooth silkiness to the soup, as well as the use of an ounce of Parmesan rind to add a certain smoothness as well as sodium to the entire dish. I did add salt, a modicum as big as a pinch, and a generous grind of fresh pepper, and dinner was ready, as stated, in less than an hour.

This particular soup would go well with a cool Chardonnay or perhaps even a Pinot Grigio if you were feeling the Italian vibe. Warm, crusty bread wouldn’t be unwelcome, either, and if you liked, even a simple, green salad–both of which my wife and I eschewed: we had to leave room for the dessert of a couple of chocolate vegan truffles I’d made a few days earlier.

Which no doubt we will enjoy while we watch Downton Abbey tonight!

Look at that lovely chunk of Parmesan reggiano sitting on top of the soup.

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