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Cooking with Frozen Vegetables (And a St. Patrick’s Day Nod)

Joy Johnson, Master Gardener

It’s not too early to order seeds for your vegetable garden this summer but first, you need to use up all those vegetables left over from last summer that are sitting in your freezer. Joy Johnson’s Minestrone soup will help you do just that. Add some Irish soda bread for a great St. Patrick’s Day meal.

Cooking with Frozen Vegetables (And a St. Patrick’s Day Nod)

The ground is still frozen in Dakota County and I don’t have anything growing in my garden. However, I have received some seed catalogs already and I’ve even seen a rack of seed packets for sale at the store. You may be thinking about starting some vegetable plants early indoors. It’s always so fun to see the little seedlings sprout.

I just realized that if I’m going to grow more vegetables this year, I need to clean out my freezer and use all the ones I froze last year. I have been using my frozen produce all winter long, see my past recipes! But I do still have a variety of veggies in my freezer. I like to cook in large batches so I have food to share with other family members, or just so I don’t have to cook for a few days, and we can live on leftovers. 

I have a recipe that I’ve been making for years that uses my frozen veggie stash and makes plenty to share. A bonus – everyone who has eaten it has loved it. The recipe is flexible, so if you don’t have one of the veggies, or you want to add in something that is not listed, feel free to experiment.

This recipe is from The Saint Paul Farmers Market Produce Cookbook.

Minestrone Soup

  • 6 cups beef broth

  • 1 (15 oz.) can great northern, cannellini or lima beans

  • 1 large potato, peeled and dices

  • 2 carrots, sliced

  • 2 ribs celery, sliced

  • 1 white or yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 small green pepper, chopped

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 ½ cups green cabbage, chopped

  • 1 cup zucchini, cubed

  • 1 cup green beans, cut in 1-inch lengths

  • ½ lb. spinach or Swiss chard, chopped

  • 3 cups Italian plum tomatoes, chopped

  • ½ cup small shell macaroni or other pasta, uncooked

  • ½ tsp each dried oregano and rosemary (or 1 tsp. each, fresh or frozen, chopped)

  • 1 tsp dried basil (or 2 tsp fresh or frozen chopped)

  • 1 tsp salt

  • ½ tsp black pepper

  • Grated Parmesan cheese

In a large stockpot, bring beef broth to a boil. Add cannellini beans, potato, carrots and celery. Simmer 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté onion, garlic and green pepper for 5 minutes. (If using frozen peppers, no need to sauté). Add to broth mixture and simmer another 15 minutes. Add cabbage, zucchini, green beans, and spinach or Swiss chard. Simmer 10 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes, pasta, oregano, rosemary, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer another 15 minutes or until pasta is cooked. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. Makes 15 servings.

A bread that goes well with Minestrone, and gives a nod to Saint Patrick’s Day, is Irish Soda Bread. The recipe that I’m sharing with you here is an authentic Irish recipe. My elderly neighbor who is 100% Irish has verified that it is a true Irish soda bread because it has raisins and caraway seeds.

Irish Soda Bread

  • 3 ½ cups flour

  • 2/3 cup sugar

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 ½ cup raisins

  • Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.

    • In a separate bowl mix together these wet ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk

  • 2 eggs beaten

  • 4 Tbsp melted butter

  • ½ tsp vanilla

  • 1 Tbsp vanilla

  • 1 Tbsp carraway seeds

    1. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until well blended.

    2. Grease and flour baking dish. I use an actual Irish soda bread pan, it’s like a 9” round cake pan.

    3. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons (1) & Flickr (2)

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