I know that this is my second soup recipe in a row. 'Tis the season for soup though, right? So, another soup it is. (And vastly different than the Beer Brat Potato Cheese Soup from last week, I might add.)
I absolutely love this minestrone. I found it in a cookbook my mom gave me entitled "Pasta & Italian". Now, in the past I've always thought of minestrone as being a pasta based soup, but this particular recipe called for potatoes (my favorite, yay!).
Being the geek I am, I actually looked up the history of minestrone to see if my version is "authentic". Meaning "the big soup", minestrone is actually the name for a variety of soups and doesn't have a set recipe that's always used. Seasonal ingredients as well as little bits of this and that leftover from other meals were thrown together in a pot and voila!...minestrone. Most commonly pasta or rice are used, but potatoes snuck in there eventually, too. No matter how you make it, it's bright, fresh, hearty and delicious. Mangia!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup pancetta, diced
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 leek, sliced into rings
- ¼ green cabbage, shredded (I've used a big handful of bagged coleslaw mix in the past, which is just shredded cabbage and carrots, so it worked perfectly.)
- 1 stalk of celery, chopped
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (15 oz) can navy beans, drained and rinsed (The original recipe only calls for 7 oz of beans, but the beans are my little girl's favorite, so I throw in the whole can.)
- 2½ cups hot chicken stock, diluted with 2½ cups boiling water
- bouquet garni (2 bay leaves, 2 sprigs of rosemary and 2 sprigs of thyme, tied together) (I use dental floss to tie them!)
- salt and pepper
- freshly grated or shredded parmesan cheese
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the pancetta, onions and garlic and saute for about five minutes or until the onions are soft, stirring often.
- Add the potato, carrot, leek, cabbage and celery to the pan and cook for two more minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the tomatoes, navy beans, chicken stock and bouquet garni to the pan, stirring to mix. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the bouquet garni. (If you over cook the soup like I did the first time I made it, the leaves of the herbs will all fall off into the soup, which is not the goal here. You just want the herbs to season the broth, but remain on the stem and removed, so keep an eye on them!)
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with fresh parmesan cheese.