So now with Christmas behind us for another year and New Years on the rise, it’s time to make room in our fridges as well as our bellies. What to do with all those leftovers? …Make a soup!
Minestrone is a hardy Italian vegetable soup that is great for a cold winter day. What’s also great about this soup is you can put anything you want in it. My recipe below is merely a suggestion. Minestrone has historically been one of those kinds of soup that utilizes leftovers and not so prime vegetables that may be on the turn. You’ll notice that not even that hard waxy end of the Parmesan is wasted. The Parmesan rind is full of flavor, and to me is what really characterizes a minestrone soup.
There are some fundamentalists that believe minestrone should be made in a very particular way with just the right ingredients and solely a vegetable soup. If that’s how your great great grandmother made it, then go straight ahead. Otherwise, you’ll find no two Italian families make minestrone the exact same way. Of course there are some common ingredients that are a must, but that’s just a base. You know, the typical onion, celery, garlic and olive oil start. Eventually you’ll add a liquid that may or may not be flavored. And finally, tomato paste, cheese rind and parsley is what truly defines a minestrone soup. If you like minestrone, but have never made it yourself then I recommend trying out this recipe. When you get the feel for its rich flavor then experiment with some other ingredients.
- 100g bacon
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 100g frozen Spinach
- 2 carrots, diced small
- 2 large potatoes, diced small
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 liters beef stock, or chicken
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley + extra for garnish
- 2 tsp sea salt
- Pepper to taste
- 250g can cannelloni beans
- 250g can small white beans
- 1 large Parmesan cheese rind
- 250g Farfalle, prepared and portioned to individual preference.
1. In a large pot, fry bacon slowly to render as much oil as possible. Then remove bacon.
2. Add olive oil, onion, celery, and garlic. Stir to sweat down, about 3 minutes.
3. Turn heat up to medium-high and add the carrots and potatoes, continue stirring for a few minutes.
4. Make a well in the center of the pot and add the tomato paste. Stir paste for about 30 seconds, then combine into veggie mixture.
5. Pour in the stock and add salt, pepper, thyme, parsley and basil. Bring to a boil.
6. Reduce heat to low and finally add the beans and cheese rind. Place the cooked bacon on the surface of the soup. Let simmer for 30 minutes or more. Be sure not to let the soup boil after adding the cheese rind, otherwise it will break apart and give the soup a funky texture.
7. Just before serving, remove bacon and discard.
8. Place some prepared farfalle in the bottom of a soup bowl and ladle hot soup over the pasta. Garnish with chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.