Minestrone

Minestrone is a classic Italian vegetable soup. What’s nice about minestrone is that there is no set recipe for it, except to use whatever vegetables you have on hand, which is my favorite way to make a soup. Often it contains beans and pasta, which when combined are an economical and efficient source of protein. Sometimes it’s more luxuriously embellished with meat. In this recipe I have the requisite beans but no pasta and no meat. Any embellishment comes from the chunk of Pecorino cheese I like to add for extra flavor and body. Finally, when I make a minestrone, I try to cut all of the vegetables in uniform dice. For some reason, I think this makes the soup taste better, perhaps because it’s easier to get a little bite of everything in each spoonful.

Minestrone
Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, cut in 1/4 inch pieces
1 celery rib, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 small rutabaga, peeled, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, fronds removed, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 small zucchini, cut in 1/4 inch dice
6 cups chicken stock
1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 2-inch chunk of rind from Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
1 15-ounce can cannellini or northern beans, drained
2-3 large Swiss chard leaves, ribs and stems removed, coarsely chopped
Grated Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese for garnish
Fresh Italian parsley leaves for garnish

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until beginning to soften, 2 minutes. Add carrots, celery, rutabaga, fennel and zucchini. Sauté until vegetables brighten in color and soften slightly, 3 minutes. Add stock, tomatoes, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. If soup is too chunky, add more stock to desired consistency. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and submerge cheese in soup. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, 2o minutes. Add beans and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Add chard and simmer until  chard is wilted, 2 minutes. Ladle into warm bowls. Garnish with grated cheese and parsley.

23 thoughts on “Minestrone

  1. I like cutting my vegetables for soup uniformly as well, I think it just looks better. I love the idea not not including meat, the beans should serve as a good portion of the protein, and it’s always good to skip meat on one day. Very nice photography. I don’t see the beans in the recipe.

  2. This one does look good, mine always ends up looking kind of mushy. Though sometimes I throw in the heel of a parmesan and this is my favourite bit! c

  3. You inspired me to make “clean out the fridge mulligatawny soup”. It’s cooling on the back deck; tomorrow I’ll grill some shrimp and make a cilantro, parsley, garlic and lemon juice pistou (I know there is supposed to EVOO in it, but we’re really pulling in the reignes this week!)
    Thanks Lynda!

  4. I am curious as to whether or not the addition of fennel gave your minestrone any notable distinction, or did it just blend in with the lot after being boiled through.

  5. I love minestrone soup and yours looks just perfect! I’m feeling under the weather right now (and traveling to boot) and could really use a cup of this! I’ll have to make a big pot when I get home.

  6. I love a good minestrone and I totally agree; it’s great to experiment a bit with ingredients and flavors (and use whatever is in the fridge).

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