I’ve always thought of minestrone as a marriage of complementary ingredients. In fact, my husband and I made minestrone as the soup served at our wedding reception. I’ve come to believe after 24 years of marriage, that indeed it is the contrasts in character and the flexibility and adaptability that make a relationship not just last, but last lovingly.
And soup is just like that, too. Flex this recipe to what you actually have on hand – don’t be strict. Adapt it to what soothes you. If you want broccoli in this soup, go for it. The term ‘minestrone’ is Italian and its root ‘minestre’ just means ‘soup’. Dive deeper into its mean and to Italians and this cook, minestrone means ‘to serve remedy.’ We can all use more of that in our kitchens and tummies these days. And, make a really big batch!
- 3 to 4 tablespoons EVOO, or enough to cover the bottom of your large stockpot
- 5 each Leek Stalks, trimmed down, rinsed and quartered to remove all grit, chopped
- 1 to 2 each Whole Yellow or White Onions, coarsely chopped
- 12 to 15 each peeled cloves of Garlic, minced
- 1 whole Celery Stalk, base trimmed and coarsely chopped (including the leaves)
- 6 to 7 each whole Carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch to 1/3 -inch thick
- 4 or 5 each medium Turnips or Potatoes, cut into ½-inch chunks (fine to leave peel on)
- 2 each whole Bell Peppers, trimmed or interior ribs, coarsely chopped
- 8 quarts Soup Stock — veg, chicken or beef broth all work. You choose your path.
- 1 24-oz. can whole peeled Tomatoes, use entire can including liquid
- 3 to 4 16-oz cans Beans of your choice (cannellini, kidney, black, pinto, great northern, garbanzo)
- 1 each bunch of fresh Parsley (Italian Flat-leaf or Curley)
- 1 each (Optional) Leftover rind of hard cheese like a Parmesan or Gruyere. (I save these in my cheese drawer just like I save vegetable scraps in the freezer)
- To taste – sea salt and black pepper
- Do all your chopping up front as the photo shows. This will be less stressful, and leave you time for a glass of vino or cup of tea after the chopping is complete.
- Over medium heat in your largest stockpot heat the olive oil with the leeks and onions until they are translucent just begin to caramelize – don’t rush this. The brown bits are your flavor base. Add garlic once onions begin to slightly brown, stir and cook for another 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add all your other chopped veggies and stir together with 3 or 4 large bay leaves and the onion mixture. Your veggies should look really bright and happy at this stage. (See photo). Stir together for another 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add your homemade or store-bought stock. Add the canned beans. You choose if you want to use the liquid. It can add a lot of sodium but also flavor and good viscosity. Up to you.
- Add the canned tomatoes by squeezing the tomatoes through your hand to break into bite-size pieces and also add the tomato liquid. Stir well.
- Let this marriage of broth, vegetables, legumes, and herbs cook at a gentle simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Just before ladling into soup bowls, add as much finely minced parsley as you’d like.
- OPTIONAL: Garnish with a drizzle of pesto or sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Enjoy soup as a service and remedy!
- FOOD SAFETY TIP: With such large amounts of soup, you’ll need to cool down the soup by dividing into smaller pots, and to stir several times over several hours when in refrigeration to keep soup cooling throughout its volume.