Rustic, comforting and wholesome, minestrone is an Italian vegetable stew traditionally composed of any vegetable in season. Since there is no set recipe for this soup it lends well to personal adaptation. Still you can count on seeing a couple of ingredients to show up in most versions of minestrones: cabbage, carrots, onions, zucchini, tomatoes and beans. In the recipe I chose, a medley of vegetables are flavored by bits of pancetta and thickened by pureed creamy white beans. Although, you can skip the pork entirely and use vegetable stock to make it a vegetarian recipe. If you have parmesan rinds (I save them in the freezer) throw them in with the vegetables to create depth and infuse flavor, just don't forget to remove them when the soup is done.
Minestrone Soup Recipe
From Simply Recipes
This recipe makes a lot of soup. You may consider halving it or freezing some of it to enjoy at a later date. The beans will absorb a great deal of liquid while cooking. Add more broth or water to replace lost liquid as needed otherwise the beans will stick to the pan.
- 1 - 1 1/2 cups dried Cannellini or Great Northern Beans
- 2 ounces salt pork or pancetta
- 2 1/2 - 3 quarts beef or chicken broth
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 cup loosely packed parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 head savoy or curly cabbage, sliced
- 1 potato, diced
- 2 zucchini, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 cups chopped Italian styled peeled plum tomatoes
- 1 Parmesan rind
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish
- Soak beans overnight in cold water. Drain beans, rinse, and place them in a large saucepan or stockpot. Add salt pork or pancetta and 6 cups of broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook gently for about 1 hour.
- Heat oil in a separate large stockpot. Add chopped vegetables (onion, celery, carrot, garlic, parsley) and sauté gently 5 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Add remaining vegetables and tomatoes. Add remaining 5 cups broth, and Parmesan rind. Simmer for 40 to 50 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Remove salt pork or pancetta from beans. Dice finely. Transfer half of the beans to a food processor or a blender and blend into a paste. Add mashed beans to the vegetables. Add remaining whole beans, broth, and diced pork to vegetables.
- Simmer 5 minutes longer. Season soup with salt and pepper. Remove Parmesan rind. Serve with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese.