MINESTRONE (Italian vegetable soup, for six)
This is a great way to use leftover crudités – fennel, asparagus and other vegetables can be added. If you have made a basil anchoide or pesto dip to accompany the crudités, it can be passed at table to add to the minestrone. Unlike most vegetable dishes, minestrone is better the day after it is made.
½ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
2 cups peeled, diced potatoes
1-1/2 cups fresh white beans, if available, or 1-1/2 cups canned cannelini beans or Great Northern beans or ¾ cup dried white beans, cooked
2 cups diced zucchini
1 cup diced green beans
3 cups shredded cabbage
8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
the crust from a 1 or 2 pound Parmesan cheese, carefully scraped clean
2/3 cup canned Italian tomatoes, with their juice
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Put the oil, butter and sliced onion in your stockpot over medium-low heat and cook until the onion wilts and is pale gold in color but not browned. Add the diced carrots and cook for 3 minutes, stirring once or twice. Repeat this procedure with the celery, potatoes, white beans (if you are using fresh beans), zucchini and green beans, adding them one at a time, cooking each for a few minutes and stirring. Then add the shredded cabbage and cook for about 6 minutes, giving the pot an occasional stir.
- Add the stock, the cheese crust, the tomatoes and their juice and a little bit of salt. (Go easy on the salt – especially if you are using canned stock – you can correct the seasoning later). Cover and cook at a very slow boil for at least 3 hours. If necessary, you can stop the cooking and resume it later. (Minestrone must never be thin or watery, so simmer until it is soupy thick. If it becomes too thick, add another cup of stock or water. Do not add more canned stock).
- Fifteen minutes before the soup is done, add the canned beans or cooked dry beans (if you are not using fresh ones). Just before turning off the heat, remove the cheese crust and discard it, swirl in the grated cheese, taste and correct for salt.
adapted from Marcella Hazan, The Classic Italian Cookbook