Quick Minestrone

by Anne Bennett on October 14, 2017

There is no one recipe for minestrone, which means “thick soup” in Italian. Recipes vary from summer to winter depending on whatever vegetables are in season. A summer minestrone may contain asparagus. A winter version may contain potatoes. Recipes may or may not contain: pasta, rice and/or meat, but traditional minestrone includes beans, onions, celery, carrots and tomatoes.

I’m always on the lookout for new, simpler versions of this soul-warming soup. This one, from Julia Moskin of the New York Times Cooking section, is particularly satisfying. Julia finely chops vegetables and cooks them with pancetta to quickly create a flavorful soup base.

The soup base of finely chopped veggies helps to thicken the soup without added fat. Julia suggests adding additional broth or water at the end if you like your soup more “soupy.” I left ours thick and it was wonderful and filling. Leftovers lasted several days in the fridge. I had the last bowl for lunch today and Lulu, my big black poodle, licked my bowl clean. That’s the ultimate stamp of approval — a hungry poodle likes it!

For the Soup Base:

1 oz. pancetta, or 2 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 large onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 stalk celery, trimmed and cut into chunks
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into chunks

For the Vegetables:

6 oz. baby kale or baby spinach
2 stalks celery, cut into small dice
2 carrots, cut into small dice
1 medium zucchini, cut into large dice
4 to 5 small Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered (optional)
1 (15-oz.) can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth, plus more to taste
1 sprig fresh rosemary, marjoram or oregano (or 1 tsp. dried Italian Seasoning)

Heat the pancetta or bacon in a heavy soup pot and cook until almost crisp, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a food processor combine the onion, celery and carrot and pulse until finely chopped. Add to the pot with the pancetta and cook until the vegetables soften but don’t brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the other vegetables to the pot: the kale or spinach, celery, carrots, zucchini, potatoes, beans and tomatoes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth and herbs, bring to a boil and simmer uncovered until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. If soup is too thick add up to 1 cup water or broth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 8
WW Points per serving: 3

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