Even though Kevin and I have been married for 10 years, in many ways I still feel like we are figuring out what 'our' Christmas traditions are. Maybe its that the kids are still so young, so we've not had much time to renegotiate what family means to our little family unit, or maybe its that we have spent every other year in America since we were married...I don't know.
We go back and forth on traditions...one family opens presents on Christmas Eve, the other on Christmas day. The big man in the red suit is "Santa" to some of us and "Father Christmas" to others. Some people eat the vile blob of eewy-gooeyness that is Christmas Pudding, while others go for delicious perfection in a pie plate that is pumpkin pie.
One thing we can agree on, this soup is eaten every year on Christmas Eve. It is absolutely not Christmas without it.
Now, in my family we call this Minestrone. In looking online *gasp* I don't think it actually IS minestrone. I think this is just what we call it, in the same way my mother pronounces Fajitas as "fruh-heet-ahs"and Georgia calls dogs "kitty"...not really right, but everyone understands what is meant.
And so, I give you Minestrone? Soup. Amounts are totally made up, because I just make it to whatever size I need to, based on the number of people I'm cooking for. The quantities below feed 6-8. If you are going to make it smaller, then reduce the meat and veg accordingly, but I'd still be heavy on the olives, I'd just let Georgia eat more of them before they went in the soup.
500g or 2lbs of stewing/casserole beef
2 smallish courgettes
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 can of pitted green olives (no pimentos)
1 can of black olives
1 can of kidney beans
a lot of beef stock (at least 1 litre)
a handful of short pasta
Chop the onions and cook until translucent. Chop and add the carrots. Brown the beef and then add the stock, tomatoes and some garlic, let this cook for a couple of hours on low on the stove until the meat is very very soft.
Drain the kidney beans and add them to the soup. For the olives, you can just dump them in, brine and all or you can drain them. I like the soup with the briney saltiness, but then the stock I use doesn't have added salt in it.
Chop up the courgettes and add them and the pasta about 15 minutes before you serve.
Serve with bread and a sprinkling of cheese...and Pumpkin Pie (but NEVER Christmas pudding)