Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Hearty Homemade Minestrone

Preparing Your Mise en Place

  • 1/2 cup dried cannellini* beans (white kidney beans) (approx. 1 cup cooked)
  • 2 oz pancetta** (optional)
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup carrots (approx. 2)
  • 1/2 cup celery (approx. 2)
  • 1 1/2 cups onion (1 medium)
  • 1 - 15 oz can whole tomatoes

*If cooking dried beans from scratch, soak over night and cook them first. If using canned cannellini beans, drain and rinse with cold water and set aside.
**Note: For a complete plant-based (vegan) version of this soup omit the pancetta and use a vegan pesto and parmesan cheese, if desired.
To prepare your mise en place, finely dice the pancetta (if using). Mince the garlic lengthwise. Cut the carrots, celery and onion all into medium-dice pieces. Drain, seed and chop the tomatoes (the remaining juice can be used in another recipe). Set aside.
Note: De-seeding the tomatoes is optional, but it is highly recommended because the seeds can often be bitter.

Cooking the Soup

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 3 large sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 12 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1 1/2 cups Yukon gold potatoes (about 2 medium)
  • 1 cup zucchini
  • 4 cups kale
  • 2 oz tubetti pasta (or 1/3 cup of other small, dried pasta)
  • salt (for cooking pasta)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To start the soup, heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-heat. Add the olive oil followed by the pancetta. Cook it until it is light-golden in color.
Add the carrots, celery and onion along with a pinch of salt. Sweat the mirepoix (you may have to turn the heat down slightly) for about 8 to 10 minutes or until the vegetables soften but do not brown. Add the garlic and cook until it starts to soften and release its aroma (do not let the garlic brown either).
Next, add the chopped tomatoes, bouquet garni and the parmesan rind, followed by the stock. Bring the soup to a simmer and let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Peel and cut the potatoes into medium dice and place into cold water. Dice the zucchini the same size.
Trim the kale from the stem and cut or tear the leaves into rough, bite-sized pieces. Wash and spin dry. Set aside.
Once the soup has simmered for about 15 minutes, start to cook the pasta in a pot of salted water. Add the pasta and cook until al dente
Bring a medium pot of cold water to a boil. Season with salt (about 1 teaspoon per liter/quart of water). .
Once the soup has simmered for about 15 minutes and you have started to cook the pasta, add the potatoes to the soup. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes then add the zucchini and beans, followed by the drained, al dente pasta. Season to taste.
Add the kale and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Season the soup again with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnishing and Serving the Soup

  • pesto (optional)
  • grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

To serve the soup, ladle it into warm bowls. Garnish with a dollop of pesto and top with Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve immediately.

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