I adore minestrone! Most recipes call for small pasta cooked in, but for reheating that's a nightmare (bloated, waterlogged pasta). There are the obvious ways around that (adding fresh pasta during reheating) but I like to make my lunch for the week and not worry about overcooked pasta. As others have mentioned, parmesan rind is KEY! I have tried it without the rind and, well, it sucked. I'm a health-conscious person so this recipe reflects that. I added some of the veggies just for their nutritional component but have found they add to the overall flavor based on my palate
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 zucchini, peeled and chopped
1 small head cabbage, chopped
1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped
48 oz vegetable juice plus 2 cans of water
2 knorr homestyle chicken stock gel things
1 can cannelloni beans, rinsed
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 t. crushed red pepper
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 large parm rind
dash dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder
Heat vegetable oil over med-high heat in a large stock pot, add onion, pepper, celery, carrot, and zucchini. Season with salt and pepper. Saute 6-8 minutes. Add cabbage, reseason, and saute 3-4 minutes. Add kale, season, and cook 3-4 minutes. Add remainder and bring to a boil. Simmer gently for an hour.
It's important to taste as you go along. Depending on how ripe your veggies are and the season, the taste will vary. I like to finish off with some fresh basil off heat, a nice chiffonade. I also like to pull out the spent rinds, dice, and add back in. Sometimes I add some diced cooked sausage. It's such a versatile recipe. If you have homemade chicken stock, it will take this soup up a notch. If you hate kale, substitute.
The Daily Soup book has a great recipe, the key to it though is to stir in a cup of basil pesto at the end and let it steep for a minute before serving. Also it seems to really matter that the pesto is home made - sadly the jarred stuff gets a weird fermented flavour in the leftovers.
HEARTY AUTUMN MINESTRONE (from a Turning Leaf ad, ingredients verbatim, directions paraphrased)
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 oz pancetta, finely chopped [or bacon]
1 med onion, chopped
1 lg. carrot, chopped
1/2 small fennel bulb, chopped [I use it all]
1 TBS minced garlic
2 tsp minced fresh thyme
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
6 cups chicken stock
1 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks [I often use sweet potato instead]
1 bay leaf
Coarse salt and cracked black pepper
4 cups chopped Swiss chard leaves
1/4 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed [I use whatever kind of bean I have and usually add 2 cans]
Heat oil and add next seven ingredients; cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Add stock, squash or sweet potato, S&P, bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer partially covered, 15 min. Add chard, greed beans, tomatoes, simmer 10 min. Puree 1/2 cup cannellini and 1/2 cup soup. Add puree and remaining beans to soup; simmer 5 min.
I like to add a parmesan rind while cooking or grated parm to serve. Sometimes I add crumbled cooked Italian sausage to make it heartier. A sprinkle of red pepper flakes is good too. This is so good I make it all the time and count on having portions in the freezer.
Arthur Schwartz has a great Minestrone with Swiss Chard. This is a slightly different minestrone that the kitchen sink variety but it is a truly delicious soup. Once I made it with veal stock and it was to die for. Sometimes I add diced pancetta at the begining. The Parmesan rind really adds a lot, if you have it.
1 pound hot Italian sausage
1 pound mild Italian sausage
1 chopped onion
3 carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 quarts chicken broth
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon dried basil
1⁄4 cup Zinfandel
2 cups large shell-shaped pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1. Squeeze sausages from casings into a large pan. Cook until brown and crumbly, approximately 10 minutes. Discard fat.
2. Add carrots, onion, zucchini, and garlic. Cook for about 6 minutes until onions are soft.
3. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, beans, basil, and Zinfandel. Bring to a boil.
4. Add pasta. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes until pasta is tender.
5. Add salt and pepper. Serve into bowls and top with parmesan cheese.
From the January 2007 issue of the wine newsletter at this web site: http://www.cheers2wine.com
The Cook's Illustrated recipe is a great one. We're just finishing up a pot of that I made earlier in the week- it makes up a huge batch. I always save the rinds on my parmesan cheeses w/ that recipe in mind. If you don't have The Best Recipe cookbook where the recipe appears, let me know and I'll post a paraphrased recipe.