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Cooking Minestrone with the Stove Off

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Retained-heat cooking has been around for ages, but I just discovered the idea by accident. Last Sunday, my son had a soccer game that took us out of the house from 3:45 until 6 p.m.—prime cooking hours. I had a Parmesan rind on hand, so I decided to make this hearty minestrone from F&W's Marcia Kiesel. By 3 p.m., though, I realized it wouldn't finish cooking before I had to leave for the game. Then I thought of actor and environmental activist Ed Begley, Jr., who encourages low-energy cooking and has just published the book Ed Begley, Jr.'s Guide to Sustainable Living. Why couldn't I just turn off the stove and let everything cook on retained heat? I added everything but the green beans to the minestrone and brought it to a boil, then turned off the gas and left the pot covered on the stove. I biked home at halftime to add the green beans (and brought the soup to a boil again), then returned to the game. When the whole family came home, the minestrone was ready to serve.

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