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Dec 20, 2012 08:34 PM

Are Minestrone and Tuscan Bean Soup the same thing?

Saw a great recipe for Tuscan Bean Soup from an Italian chef on FB, and when I showed my friend, she said "that's just Minestrone."
I must admit they look similar, but are they really the same thing?

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  1. The recipe I have for Tuscan bean soup is almost entirely beans, with some tomato, celery and carrot. It's nothing like what I think of as minestrone, even allowing for a great deal of variation in minestrone.

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    1. re: GH1618

      Here's the recipe from Jasper of Jasper's in KC.
      Jasper's Tuscan Bean Soup

      "Tuscans were very frugal people and never threw anything away," says Jasper J. Mirabile, Jr., the owner of Jasper's cooking school and restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri. Northern Italians like to serve this soup, which dates back hundreds of years, as a full meal. The hearty main dish includes beans, grains and plenty of healthy vegetables.

      8 ounces dry navy beans (1 1/4 cups)
      4 cups water
      1 ounce pancetta, chopped, or thinly sliced bacon
      1 1/2 cups chopped celery
      1/2 cup chopped carrot
      1/2 cup chopped onion
      1 tablespoon olive oil
      6 cups water
      1/2 cup dry white wine
      1 tablespoon instant beef bouillon granules
      1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
      1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon, crushed
      1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
      1/4 teaspoon pepper
      1 head escarole, torn (6 cups)*
      3 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
      2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
      1/2 cup ditalini (tiny thimble- or tube-shaped pasta)
      1/3 cup tomato juice

      Rinse the beans. In a saucepan, combine beans and the 4 cups water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. (Or skip boiling the water and soak beans overnight in a covered pan.) Drain; rinse beans.

      In a Dutch oven, cook pancetta, celery, carrot and onion in olive oil till vegetables are tender, but not brown.

      Add the 6 cups fresh water, wine, beans, bouillon granules, crushed red pepper (if you like), tarragon, basil and pepper. Bring mixture to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer the mixture for 1 hour.

      Add the escarole, tomatoes, potatoes, ditalini and tomato juice. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes more or till potatoes are tender.

      *If you can't find escarole, substitute the same amount of fresh spinach and just stir it into the soup before just stir it into the soup before just stir it into the soup before serving, instead of simmering with the potatoes.

    2. The Minestrone recipes that I've used have always been more of a tomato soup with all the vegetables and some pasta in it.
      The Tuscan bean soup recipes have had a beany base with other stuff thrown in.

      1. Do you mean ribollita?

        I took a trip to Italy a few years ago and a couple of times while on sightseeing tours that included lunch we were served ribollita which was tomatoes, white beans and bread and possibly some other odd or end. I never knew iif the stock was made with just water, chicken stock or what, and as peasanty as this soup was, it was unlike any ribollita I've had stateside.

        In Italy, the soups were also always served with vinegar and olive oil which I'd never seen done here, at least the vinegar part.

        There was also a Tuscan white bean soup that we had that was much different than any white bean soups that I've eaten here stateside. It was white bean and escarole, I think that was pretty much it, no pasta or other vegetable in it. I don't know what stock they used but it was more intense than anything I've had here.

        When I was young, my mother used to make minestrone occasionally and I hated it. I would drink the broth and leave everything else. :). I remember the little ditalini pasta would turn to mush.

        1. Tuscan Bean Soup is Pasta e Fagioli. It varies from region to region and from family to family. It's a very basic Italian soup. As is Minestrone which may be similar in some ways but is a different soup. In its simplest form pasta e fagioli contains beans and pasta cooked in a savory broth made with olive oil, onion, garlic, and fresh herbs.. Usually though more ingredients are added to round out a meal: crushed tomatoes or leftover pasta sauce, pancetta or prosciutto added for flavor.

          Minesrone, on the other hand, is a soup made from seasonal vegetables. There may be some beans and meat but it's primarily a vegetable soup cooked in stock.

          1. I think Minestrone is a simple vegetable soup. Like spaghetti sauce, probably everyone has their own versions. There are bread soups like Ribolita, but I wouldn't class either Minestrone or Tuscan Bean Soup under that category.