As daylight savings kicked into gear this November, and we all 'fell back', I immediately went into 'one soup a week' mode. I have some great standbys like Tortilla Soup, Pozole, Veggie Chowder, Thai Dumpling Soup and Tom Ka Gai. But then I realized I absolutely love Minestrone, and had never made it before (as far as I can remember). Being Italian, I realized I had been ignoring my roots, and fell into the belief minestrone only came from restaurants and my Grandma Nonna. My beloved Nonna is no longer alive to ask for a recipe, so I looked through all my cookbooks, and put a recipe together from a few different sources, mostly Joy of Cooking and The Silver Palate Good Times cookbooks. On the first go I vastly underestimated the power of pasta, but by the second and third rounds I think I have the soup dialed. Here's what I came up with...
What's in it
1 sprig fresh rosemary
sweet italian sausage (uncooked, casing removed)
shredded cabbage or chopped kale
4-10 C chicken broth
28 oz can diced tomatoes
16 oz cannellini beans (white kidney), rinsed through
other optional additions (add with zucchini): bell pepper, green beans, parsley, parmesan rind
orzo or other small pasta noodle (macaroni, small tortellini, parfelles etc)
garnish with fresh grated parmesan and ground pepper
*I don't give any measurements, because what I use always comes out with a giganitic pot of soup, so if you want something more manageable it wouldn't help you. If you need recommendation, do one or two of each veggie (and 1/2 to 1 onion) with a half or whole pound sausage (or bacon, or pancetta).
How it's made
Prep all your veggies then heat olive oil (1-2 Tbl) in a large ceramic coated dutch oven or large stock pot. Add sausage and break into little pieces with your stirring spoon, cook in oil until browned. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic add dashed of salt and saute until softened. Add rosemary (whole) and put cabbage/kale and basil on top of the cooked veggies, letting it steam on top for a few minutes before mixing in. Cook until wilted then add canned tomato, rinsing inside of can with water and adding it as well. Bring to a simmer, then add chicken broth and parmesan rind then bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add beans and zucchini. If you want to speed up this part of the process, heat chicken broth and canned tomato in a pot separate so it is hot when added. Simmer until zucchini is al dente, then add your pasta. Go very conservative, it grows to about 10 times its size, especially if you don't eat the soup right away. Kind of like the magic growing dinosaurs - just add water. I use orzo because it is so small to begin with, and for a big pot of soup I use 1/4 to 1/3 cup. Simmer your soup until the pasta is cooked, then serve with crusty bread.