Minestrone is a wonderful soup of Italian origin. It is primarily made of vegetables, however, it is common to also use a little cured meat as a flavor base. I have made this many times using pancetta, described as the Italian version of bacon, although some feel its more like ham.
Anyway, this version, adapted from one found on All Recipes, is vegetarian and is only meant to be a starting point for your own special brand of soup.
I have often seen that Minestrone translates to “Big Soup.” Online translators do not reproduce this, but per Wikipedia: “In modern Italian there are three words corresponding to the English word soup: zuppa, which is used in the sense of tomato soup, or fish soup; minestra, which is used in the sense of a more substantial soup such as a vegetable soup, and also for “dry” soups, namely pasta dishes; and minestrone, which means a very substantial or large soup or stew, though the meaning has now come to be associated with this particular dish.”
So I guess that covers THAT question.
What everyone can agree on is that Minestrone is a thick vegetable soup.
And, the beauty of this is that you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Zucchini, for instance, is not in this recipe but is a very common addition.
The end-product is surprisingly hearty, which can be a surprise to meat-eaters. It’s probably best not to tell them how healthy it is, just let them enjoy the flavor. 😀
To start, make a mirepoix (meer-PWAH). This is simply a mix of chopped onion, celery and carrots. It is the starting point for many soups. You could call these chopped veggies, but you will sound so much more sophisticated if you just start using the word “mirepoix.” LOL.
Cook the mirepoix in oil until the onion starts to look translucent. Add some garlic and cook for one minute. Now, one note about garlic: I once had an Italian boss, Luca, and I asked him the secret to making sauce. He started with mirepoix as described, and then emphasized that you NEVER allow the garlic to burn. “If you burn the garlic, you are DONE! Throw it away! And start over!”
I’ve never known a man feel so strongly about garlic!
But, this is probably why every recipe I’ve seen says to cook garlic for just 30 seconds – a minute, at most. Now, every time I add garlic to a pan, I hear Luca’s voice: “If you burn the garlic, you are DONE!”
Once you’ve tiptoed past the garlic landmine, you’re on Easy Street. Add your liquids and bring to a simmer, then add the seasonings and vegetables (except greens) and simmer for 30 minutes. The greens are a personal choice, but I really love Swiss chard in my Minestrone. Fresh spinach is a good substitute as well. Or maybe no greens at all! Experiment! You do you.
Pasta is also optional. The beans prevent this soup from being considered truly “low carb,” but including or omitting the pasta might make a difference to you in that category. I’ve made it both ways and to be honest I do not notice when the pasta is omitted.
Either way, the end result is a delicious, and oh-so-satisfying soup!
- 2 TB olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 1 carrot diced
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 28 oz can plum tomatoes, crushed fine
- 1 can cannellini beans drained
- 1 can garbanzo beans drained
- 2 cups chopped cabbage
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes to taste
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 bunch Swiss chard chopped (or 2-3 cups fresh spinach)
- salt and ground black pepper
- 2/3 cup ditalini pasta optional
- Heat 2 TB Olive oil in a large stock pot over medium to high heat. Add carrot, onion and celery; cook and stir until onion starts to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in minced garlic and cook for another minute.
- Pour broth and plum tomatoes into the pot. Bring to a simmer.
- Stir beans, cabbage, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, and 2 tsp salt into the broth mixture. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
- Stir in Swiss chard (or other greens) and simmer until softened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Stir in pasta (if using) and increase heat to medium-high. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.