I have this theory I've been working out for years. Thanks for visiting and hearing me out. (Or for stopping by and skipping right to the recipe at the bottom of this page. Whichever.) 

Here goes: I think you can learn everything about people's personalities by observing them in the kitchen. Do they wash dishes as they go or accumulate an awful mess of pots, pans, knives, fingertips, and cutting boards by the time they are through with a recipe? Might tell you something about their ability to cope with real life challenges, and about how well they manage when the 'going gets crazy.'

Do they focus on one step of the recipe at a time and move in a linear, organized fashion? Or do they bounce around from step to step to get things done more quickly (sometimes)? Might tell you something about their ability to juggle responsibilities and deal with overwhelming workloads.

People who subscribe to the mise-en-place method are usually organized but maybe a little boring.

People who follow recipes to a 't' are cautious and conservative.

People who wash dishes as they go are capable but maybe just a little obsessive.

So what about you? What's your personality in the kitchen? Do you think it relates to your personality in real life? What do you think of my theory?

All-Out Minestrone Soup
This is an all-out soup because it calls for fine ingredients, and takes just a little more effort than your ordinary vegetable soup. But it's so very worth it. Not that I know very much about Italy, but I promise your kitchen will smell like Italy if you follow this recipe.

½ lb. of your favorite dried beans (get fancy and use these, or another Rancho Gordo favorite)
2 tablespoons of your very best olive oil
3 large leeks, cleaned well and chopped
1 teaspoons dried oregano, or about a tablespoon fresh oregano minced
4 medium cloves garlic, peeled and chopped coarse
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, peeled and sliced
2 summer squash, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
2 teaspoons salt
dash black pepper
1 cup awesome red wine (something you would drink, and drink, and drink)
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2-3 cups vegetable stock
Cooked small pasta shapes like acini di pepe or ditalini (optional)
Fresh parsley and parmesan for garnish

First, soak your beans in a large pot. You can use a quick-soak or overnight soak method. Cook them up until done but still quite firm. (It's ok if they're just a tiny bit raw in the center.) DO NOT discard the cooking water. Just let the beans rest in their liquid. They call it bean liquor for a reason.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Sauté the leeks in olive oil for about 5 minutes, on medium heat, till they are soft and fragrant.

Add the oregano and garlic to the leeks. Sauté for another 5 minutes or so, till your kitchen is smelling just a bit like Italy.

Add the carrots, celery and squash. Mix well and sauté for about 10 minutes more, stirring a couple of times.

Add the salt, pepper, fantastic wine, and tomato paste. Mix well and then cover the pan with a lid. (Keep the heat on medium.) Let this cook for 15 minutes, resisting the urge to lift the lid and stir. At this point, your house will smell like a wonderful combination of tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and herbs. Resist the urge to imbibe it like a strange person.

Now, pour the vegetables into the beans. Add enough vegetable stock to generously cover the vegetables with liquid. You'll need 2-4 cups, depending how liquid-y your beans are.

Simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes.

If desired, spoon some cooked noodles into your bowls. Then ladle in the soup, and garnish with parsley and parmesan.

Bon appétit!