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Oct 2, 2008 08:26 AM

Fix my minestrone?

I was in the mood for a lot of fresh vegetables in a single dish, to supplement the fried chicken we were having for dinner last night (and make at least a pretense of eating healthy). I prepared the "Late Summer Minestrone" from Mark Bittman's column in the NYTimes. I followed the directions to use water as a base and have to admit that the resulting soup was a bit lackluster. The vegetables were good, but the broth was just kind of blah.

I know soups and stews improve over a couple of days, so I'm hoping that it will taste better on Friday. I assume that some of the liquid, despite being covered in the fridge, is either going to evaporate or be absorbed into the vegetables, so am considering adding some or all of these items in when I reheat it:

- beef or chicken broth for more flavor
- shredded cabbage
- cooked Italian sausage meat or pancetta
- cooked ditalini (sp?) or elbow macaroni
- canned cannelini beans (drained, rinsed)

I would love your opinions on this 'cause I don't want this soup to go to waste, simply because it isn't great. I want to MAKE it great.


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  1. Hey Deenso,

    My suggestion would be to add some chicken stock, some more tomato (from a can if you haven't any good, ripe tomatoes), and some more herbs. I see the recipe only calls for basil - I would add a healthy amount of chopped flat leaf parsley. I don't think macaroni will add any flavour - just texture. Sausage or pancetta would add flavour, but I think would mask the nice veggie flavour you get in good minestrone.
    You could saute another batch of mirepoix and add that to your soup too.
    Good luck!

    1 Reply
    1. re: MrsCris

      Thanks for the input. Parsley's a good idea, but I'm not sure I'd add more mirepoix. What with the carrots and the corn, the broth ended up with a slight sweetness, so I'd hesitate to put any more in. Perhaps some celery, instead? Good point about the pasta, though.

    2. Did you add the Pesto has he suggests? When I make soup my liquid of choice is a good stock/broth. That makes all the difference and seems to enhance any vegetable or grain I add. If you want to augment your soup after the fact, I suggest adding some broth and cooked meat, though I wouldn't add pancetta. The ditlini won't add much flavor but the beans might.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        No, I didn't add the pesto - not a big fan. I'm curious - why do you advise against adding pancetta?

        1. re: Deenso

          Good question..... I just don't like crispy bits in soup.

      2. I just looked at the orginal recipe and see that it says salt and pepper. The first thing I'd do to try to fix a blah soup is to add salt and some fresh lemon juice. I think under-salted soup broths tend to taste very blah and am always surprised at what a difference the right amount of salt makes. The lemon juice will perk it up as well. I agree with the other posters re the meat or pasta. They would prob. detract from the lovely veggie flavors. Chicken broth or a combo of beef and chicken broth may help as well. Also the suggestion of using more fresh herbs will also add more flavor. Please let us know what you did and how it turned out.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jackie de

          Yes, I'm a salt freak, so added plenty of S&P during cooking. Ya gotta stop at some point, though - especially considering the soup's going to be reheated and the flavors are going to concentrate. I love the idea of adding some fresh lemon juice, along with the beef/chicken broth. Thanks!

        2. We always add balsamic vinegar to minestrone. And definitely add ditalini! Not for flavor. Just.......because!

          2 Replies
          1. re: southernitalian

            Just curious. So, found this definition.
            ditalini : A small Italian tubular pasta that is cut so the diameter is roughly the same as the width. "Little thimbles" in Italian. Other Names: Salad-Roni.
            Attached picture.

            1. re: southernitalian

              See, we agree: my feeling is that there's always a place for pasta.

            2. Bit of fish sauce, bit of sugar, touch of chili powder. Wee amounts. Lime juice as others have suggested.