If you thought that rigatoni was good…

minestroneI’m here with my mom’s minestrone recipe! This soup is amazing, and super flexible in that it very much thrives on all kinds of stuff being dumped in it. I make it a little bit differently than my mom does, and I’ll make notes at the end of the parts I change. My soup comes out more tomato-y than hers does, but it’s equally terrific either way.

Directly from my mom’s email to me, without editing her commentary because it makes me happy every time I read it:

MINESTRONE

Description:
Secret to this soup is adding the rind from a wedge of Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano. It brings complexity and depth to a soup made with chicken stock (store-bought is fine). Rinds from which all the cheese has been grated can be stored in a zip-lock bag in the freezer.

2   oz or so pancetta fried until crisp in olive oil if you’re not a vegetarian
2   small leeks (1 large) washed thoroughly. White & light creen parts sliced thin crosswise (about ¾ cup)
2   medium carrots, cut into small dice (3/4 cup)
2   small onions, peeled, cut into small dice (about ¾   cup)
2   medium celery stalks, trimmed & cut into small dice ( ¾ cup)
1   medium zucchini, trimmed & cut into medium dice (1 ¼ cups)
2   cups stemmed spinach or escarole leaves cut into thin strips
1   can (28 oz) whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained & chopped
1   Parmesan cheese rind, about 5-2 inches
1   can (15 oz) canellini or garbanzo and red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
¼  cup basil pesto or 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary mixed with 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 1 tablespoon extra virgin oil
Salt & pepper
Chicken broth at least 32 oz

Directions:
I start with frying up the pancetta in a little olive oil then adding the diced carrots, celery, onions and cook in a soup kettle or pot, or if you skip the meat, cook the hard veggies and 2 minced garlic cloves with a little olive oil until softened.

Add all the veggies (except the beans) with the chicken broth. You’re going to need a big pot. I even added medium diced butternut squash – so pretty too. My 4 1/2 quart wouldn’t hold the beans. Bring to boil, turn down to simmer and cook for an hour.  

Refrigerate overnight to let all the flavors find each other. You can freeze for a month. Defrost if necessary and reheat before proceeding.

Add beans & cook until heated through about 5 mins. Remove cheese, (I didn’t), stir in pesto or rosemary/garlic, salt & pepper and serve immediately with good, hard crusted bread and a nice Chianti Riserva, Querciabella or Dievole Rinasciemento, put on some Dean Martin, and when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s ………..
Love, ma xoxoxoxoxo 12/9/06

Number Of Servings: Lots

Preparation Time: How fast can ya chop?

That’s my mom’s fabulous recipe! Please note that she neglects to list the two garlic cloves in the ingredient list, so I inevitably forget about them until I’ve already got the carrots, celery, and onions softening, leading to frantic last minute peeling and mincing. I also use a can of diced tomatoes, because I’m lazy, and don’t drain the can, because I like my minestrone to be really tomato-y. I use a can of drained chick peas (garbanzo beans) and another of drained dark red kidney beans, and I add them when I add the rest of the vegetables. The more stuff in my soup, the better! And the beans do just fine. I also increase pretty much every veggie by 10-20% while chopping because the soup can take it and I like it. I do tend to need to add more broth than this recipe calls for, though. At least 50% more, but sometimes closer to double the broth, depending on how overboard I’ve gone with the veggies.

The first time I made this recipe, I didn’t have the pesto or the fresh rosemary, so I skipped those options entirely and have never gone back to try adding them since the soup turned out so delicious. But I’m sure you should try it!

You can make this soup for vegetarians too! Just skip the pancetta and use veggie broth instead of chicken. It will still be delicious, especially if you keep the rinds of cheese. They really give a richness to the broth.

That’s it. The flavors of this soup really deepen after 24 hours, by the way. My first bowl right off the stove is always fine, but tastes a little low key. By the next day, it’s always amazing. Enjoy!


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