Minestrone, The Seasonal Italian Soup

by Mar 4, 2020

Minestrone

The structure of this minestrone includes lentils, beans and some orecchiette pasta. I like using these three ingredients together because they deliver a satisfaction that is sometimes hard to get from a vegetable soup. A grating of good Parmigiano-Reggiano and a nice loaf sourdough help in that department as well.

Thanks to Kathryne Taylor of Cookie & Kate and her excellent book, Love Real Food for the original recipe, “Hearty Lentil Minestrone” (you need this book if you don’t have it already!)

Delicious dinners depend on the best tasting ingredients. Here are my recommendations:

  • Tomatoes: Bianco DiNapoli San-Marzano style tomatoes grown in the California sun (or San-Marzanos from Italy); get the whole ones as they are the most versatile (and you can always snip at them with kitchen shears as they bob in the soup…I think this is fun, but I’m weird this way)
  • Tomato paste: keep a tube of Mutti in the refrigerator
  • Lentils: Timeless Natural Food
  • Beans: Rancho Gordo (if you’re in Bozeman, I sell these beans!)
  • Pasta: Rustichella d’Abruzzo (if you’re in Bozeman, Joe’s Parkway sells this brand)
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano: splurge on the real deal and grate it yourself with a microplane grater (or cheese plane for thin planks instead of “fluff”) at serving time
  • Dry vegetable bouillon (easy to have on hand): Seitenbacher or Edward & Sons
  • Flake salt (for finishing): Maldon or Jacobsen

Minestrone, The Seasonal Italian Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs celebry, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste

Seasonal Vegetables (use 1 c. vegetables and 3/4 c. lentils or omit lentils and use 2 cups vegetables instead) and spices

  • 1 cup seasonal vegetables, chopped butternut squash, potato, zucchini, peas, parsnips, etc. — a mix is fine, just don't go too much over 1 cup or you will have a stew instead of a soup. You can always add more water though!
  • 3/4 cup lentils, green or brown picked over for small stones or debris then rinsed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced and mashed with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt the amount of salt is up to you and depends on the saltiness of the vegetable broth you are using…go light, you can always add more later or at serving time
  • 1/2 tsp oregano, dried
  • 1/2 tsp thyme, dried or a few sprigs fresh
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 28 oz. can San Marzano-style tomatoes with liquid
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, made from dry bouillon (make sure you like the flavor! if not, use water) Edward & Sons one cube, or 2 level tsp. Seitenbacher
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup dried orecchiette pasta (or other shape) Rustichella d'Abruzzo
  • 1 ½ cups cooked beans (or one 15oz. can beans, rinsed and drained) Yellow Eye, cannellini or other white bean
  • 2 cups Tuscan kale, chopped (tough rib removed)
  • At serving: ½ a fresh lemon, grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano, pepper grinder, and flake salt

Instructions

  1. In dutch oven or soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat, add the onion, carrots and celery, and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon or spatula, until vegetables have softened and onions begin to turn translucent, 5–10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stir and cook for a couple more minutes.

  2. Add the seasonal vegetables and lentils (if using), garlic, spices and cook, stirring, a couple minutes until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, broth, water and bay leaves. Increase heat and bring to a boil then lower heat to maintain a gentle simmer, partially cover with lid (leave a gap for steam to escape), and cook for 15 minutes.

  3. Uncover and add the pasta, beans and kale. Continue simmering uncovered until the lentils are tender and the pasta is al dente, about 20 minutes longer.

  4. Turn off the heat, remove and discard the bay leaves, and squeeze in a couple teaspoons of fresh lemon juice. Stir and ladle into warmed serving bowls. Pass the freshly grated Parmesan, black pepper and flake salt.


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