"Minestrone Soup-An Old Italian Favorite"

"Minestrone Soup"

Minestrone soup has a really rich history. It is known in Italy as "cucina povera" or literally poor mans soup, a peasant soup. It shows up in cook books as far back as 30 AD...

However, at its beginnings, the ingredients were pooled from ingredients for other dishes, often side dishes or "contorni" plus whatever was left over from meals...

"Flowers before a Monastery" 

 

Eventually over time, as the Roman Empire spread, more ingredients became available throughout Italy—though it wasn't till the 1600's that tomatoes first began appearing in Minestrone soups all over the the Italian countryside...

Then, at some point in time, it suddenly became a dish made for its own sake and not using the leavings of other dishes or the remainders of vegetables soon to spoil...

"Hearty Italian Soup"

Now every region of Italy has there own version of this wonderful winter soup. (Actually a wonderful anytime soup)

I should warn you though; this recipe is not a 30-Minute Meal, a One Pot Wonder, a Five Ingredient Dinner, a Set-it-and-Forget-it Dish or any of the other cute little titles you can think of dished up daily in foodie mags and, um, blogs kind of like this one...

"Looking out on the Mediterranean" 

 

This minestrone, is not cute. It is a tad bit messy and just a little demanding...

It involves planning as well as some mincing, chopping, shredding, rinsing and blending. Oh, And time. A nice bit of time. The kind of time you once had on a Sunday afternoon before you got too busy either running your kids all over creation or just trying to recover from a weeks worth of work...

  "Cooking up the soup base"

"Cooking up the soup base"

 

Trust me though, in the end, you'll be left with one amazingly wonderfully deliciously layered soup just chock full of Italian flavor, Italian history and oh so "Definitely Delish"


"Minestrone Soup"

Ingredients:
2 Carrots, diced
2 Celery ribs, chopped
1 medium Vidalia Onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 can Crushed Tomatoes (14.5 oz.)
1 can dice Stewed Tomatoes (14.5 oz.)
1 can Roman beans, rinsed & drained (15 oz.)
1 can Garbanzo beans or Chickpeas, rinsed & drained (15 oz.
1 can Beef Broth (14.5 oz.)
2 cans Low Sodium-Fat Free Chicken Broth (14.5 oz. each can)
1 cup of Vegetable Stock (8 oz.)
3 cups of Savoy Cabbage, chopped/shredded (or more if desired-see Notes for additional options)
4 Baby Yukon Gold Potatoes, diced (see Notes)
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Bay Leaf
2 tablespoons Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped (plus extra for garnish
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
2 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra for serving)
Parmesan Cheese Rind (Optional Ingredient, see Notes)
3-4 oz. diced Pancetta (Optional-see Notes)
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste
1-2 cups dry Pasta (see Notes)

"Pasta mixed into the Minestrone"

Directions:
1. Heat a large stock pot on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil—then add Pancetta to pot. (if using this option-see Notes) Cook for two minutes...
2. Add Garlic and Red Pepper flakes then cook for one minute, lower temperature to medium low if needed to avoid over cooking...
3. Now add the Onion, Celery and Carrots to the pot and continue cooking for 5 to 7 minutes—until vegetables soften slightly...
4. At this time add the dried herbs and bay leaf (I prefer freeze dried Herbs, but regular dried herbs are good as well)
5. Now add the Potato and cabbage (see Notes for what I prefer and used in this dish); stir and cook for 2-3 minutes, till cabbage just starts to soften...
6. Add the Tomato Paste to the pot, mix well and cook for 1 minute before adding the crushed and diced Tomatoes. Now add all of the Broths (Beef, Chicken & Veggie) and Parmesan Cheese Rind (If Using), cover and simmer after stirring...
7. Meanwhile rinse and drain the Beans you will be using (see Notes for options), now take 1 cup of mixed beans and purée it in a food processor (you can also mash them in a bowl if needed)—now add Beans and puréed beans to the pot and stir, cover and continue simmering for 15-20 minutes...
8. At this time you can either cook the Pasta in the soup or separately (see Notes) if desired; if you decide to cook it in the soup, raise the temperature to medium and add your Pasta—cook till al dente, about 6-8 minutes depending on pasta size and type...
9. Stir in 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, then season with Sea Salt & Pepper to taste...

"Minestrone-so filling and delicious"

Notes:
1. Option to start this soup is either 3-4 oz. of finely diced pancetta or crumbled cooked sweet Italian sausage. If you decide not to use meat, skip step 1 and immediately add garlic and red pepper then continue with the recipe...
2. For my greens I used a mix of both Savoy Cabbage and Green Swiss Chard, for the texture, taste and color of each...
3. I chose to mix Roman beans and Garbanzo beans, mixing two versions of this dish (one being Minestrone Di San Giuseppe, and a version from the Roma region of Italy), you could of course use any variation you desire for this and you would not be wrong (some even come with peas, green beans and Lentils)
4. I always use Parmesan cheese that I grate myself, which eventually leaves me with the rind (the end that has the cheese-makers marks on it), I add this to the soup for the wonderful depth of flavor it can add, but this is entirely optional for you...
5. Pasta choices—for this I used a mix of medium size pasta shells and Fusco Fiori pasta (which has a wonderful shape and texture), you of course can add any types you prefer but smaller with a nice shape (to hold onto the soup) is best I feel...
6. Not everyone likes their pasta cooked inside the soup (can get soft on re-heating); if cooking separately, add salt and a handful of semolina flour to a pot of water and cook till al dente (see your pastas package instructions). The flour will give the pasta that nice starchy flavor you get in good restaurants (they use the same pot of pasta water repeatedly without changing it, adding all that extra pasta starch taste/texture to the water over time)
7. One optional seasoning ingredient is the addition of a sprig of fresh Rosemary when you add the broth, I love the flavor it adds but not everyone enjoys it...
8. A nice hot loaf of sesame semolina is perfect with this, just love dunking it in this soup—delish....

"Venezia, Italia"