Recipes

MINESTRONE or ITALIAN VEGETABLE SOUP

This is an easy to make, thick vegetable soup to warm up the winter tables.
Minestrone is a classic Italian dish, usually made from any spare seasonal vegetable in the house. Everyone in Italy has their own family recipe, featuring different beans and vegetables (linked to the different Italian regions and their seasons), that over time has evolved from a “poor man’s” dish to a healthy and tasty modern-day meal.

The word ‘minestrone‘ comes from ‘minestra‘ which came to mean “food coocked in a liquid served at the beginning of a meal,” but originally indicated any served dish (from the Latin ‘minestrare‘, that was, serving food at the table.) Another common derivation of this word is ‘minister’, that is, a person who serves. In Italian, the word ‘minestrone‘ is also used as a metaphor to indicate a mix of disorganized, various and confused things: “That book contains a minestrone of various facts.”

The vegetables used can vary according to personal tastes, but beans should never be omitted. You can serve minestrone with croutons or with an addition of rice or pasta, the choice is yours.
This is my mom’s recipes. She liked to blend half of the cooked soup because I prefer a thicker and denser texture rather than a watery soup. My mom used to prepare it hot during cold winter days, but it is also good at a room temperature, completely blended and served with a ricotta quenelle on the top. Because there are so many vegetables and cutting them takes time, she prepared a lot of portions, freezing the leftovers to be reheated for another day.

Here is the recipe, usually for four portions (just two portions for Mark and me when we eat it in front of the television).
Ready in two hours (plus another half hour to cut the vegetables).

INGREDIENTS (WHAT):

  • 40 g. olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, halved
  • 2 flat fillets of anchovies in olive oil
  • 150 g. leeks, white part only (about 1 medium), finely sliced
  • 100 g.¬† onions (about 1/2 a large one), finely chopped
  • 100 g. celery (about 3 stalks), coarsely chopped
  • 100 g. carrots (about 2 medium ones), peeled and chastely chopped
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 100 g. zucchini (about 2 medium ones), 1/2-inch diced
  • 200 g. savoy cabbage (1/2 a small one), cut into 1/2-inches pieces
  • 200 g. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inches pieces
  • 200 g. potatoes (about 2 small ones ), 1/2-inch diced
  • 700 g. low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 100 g. baby spinach leaves
  • 400 g. cannellini beans (1 can), rinsed and drained
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, torn
  • freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to taste (I love a lot)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

PREPARATION (HOW):

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, toss carrots, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, savory cabbage, green beans and potatoes.
  2. In a deep large stockpot, heat half the olive oil with the anchovies over medium heat stirring them into a paste.
  3. Add the onion, leek and celery, sauté until they become translucent.
  4. Add the the tossed vegetables, pour in the cold vegetable stock, bring the mixture to boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 40 minutes.
  5. Add the spinach and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Add the cannellini beans and continue to simmer for 2s0 minutes until the stock is almost completely absorbed.
  7. Blend half of the soup and mix it in with the rest.
  8. Ladle the hot soup into bowls.
  9. Stir in the basil to wilt it, garnish with Parmigiano Reggiano (I love a lot of it), and add a drizzle of the remaining olive oil on top.

That’s all! Buon appetito!

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