Friday, February 3, 2012


It's winter.  It's cold.  (Ok, so it hasn't been so cold this week...but it's still winter!)  What's one of the best ways to warm up?  SOUP!  If you like a healthy, hearty soup, then you should try to make some homemade minestrone.  This recipe is, of course (it is my blog, after all), Tuscan.  I'm going to teach you how to make all of this:
into a yummy soup!

First thing's first.  When you shop for your produce, make sure you get the freshest, nicest looking vegetables that you can find.  It pays to be picky!

You're going to need the following vegetables: onion, basil, potatoes, carrot, Italian kale (cavolo nero or lacinato kale), celery, lettuce, zucchini, string beans, and plum or roma tomatoes.  (Yep, that's a lot of vegetables.  It's going to turn into a lot of soup!)

You're also going to need extra virgin olive oil, pancetta, cannellini beans, beef broth, and short pasta (I use ditalini).

Now, I hope you have a good knife, because you're going to be doing a lot of chopping!

First, chop up half of an onion and about a 1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves.

You're also going to need 2 ounces of diced pancetta.  You can find pancetta at the deli counter at most big supermarkets.  I happened to find a package of already diced pancetta at my grocery store.

Then.. dice ALL the vegetables! Ok, well not really all of them yet.  You can wait to chop the tomatoes.  I like to wait until I am just about ready to add them to the soup, because if they sit, they can get kind of gross. Oh, and don't dice the string beans.  I just cut them into pieces about an inch or so long.

When you chop the Italian kale, remove the stems, then chop up the leaves.

Then, when you're done wielding your knife, it's time to start the soup.

Turn on your burner to medium and pour about 4 or 5 tablespoons of olive oil into the bottom of a big pot.  I never measure my oil, I just eyeball it.  One less thing to wash that way.

Then add your pancetta...

...and the onion and basil.

Now stand there and breathe in the magnificent perfume you created.

You're welcome.

Saute it around a bit and then add the rest of the chopped vegetables (except for the tomatoes).  As a recap, you'll be adding: about a 1/2 pound of diced potatoes, 1 diced carrot, about a 1/2 pound or so of Italian kale, 1 diced celery stalk, 1 chopped head of lettuce, 2 or 3 small, chopped zucchini, and about 1/4 pound of string beans.

Toss in a little salt and pepper and cover.  Let it cook for about 10 minutes.  While you're waiting, go ahead and drain and rinse your can of cannellini beans and peel and chop 2 or 3 plum or roma tomatoes.  After 10 minutes, remove the lid from the pot.  It should look something like this:

Give it a stir and then add your beans and chopped tomatoes.

Next, add enough broth to cover everything.  I have no idea how much this will take for you.  I don't buy my broth, I make it myself.  If I had to guesstimate, I would suggest buying a couple of the big cartons/cans of broth.  If you don't use it all, you can use it for something else, like pasta al brodo.

Cover it up again and let it cook slowly for 2 hours.  You might need to turn the heat down to medium-low.  You will want it to just simmer slowly.  Be sure to give it a stir every so often so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.  You may need to add more broth (or water) to the soup, just keep an eye on it.

After 2 hours, add about a 1/2 pound of the short pasta.  Stir it in and let it cook for 10 minutes.  When the pasta is done, the soup is ready to eat!

Dish it up and drizzle a little extra-virgin olive oil on top of each serving.

Buon appetito! 

(for those who want to print the recipe, here's a written version:)


4 or 5 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 oz. diced pancetta
1/2 of a medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/2 pound yellow potatoes, peeled and diced
1 diced carrot
1/2 pound Italian kale (cavolo nero or lacinato kale), chopped
1 diced celery stalk
1 head of lettuce, chopped
2 or 3 small diced zucchini
1/4 pound string beans
2 or 3 ripe plum or roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 can of cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
beef broth
1/2 pound short pasta (I use ditalini)

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Saute the pancetta, onion and basil.  Add all vegetables except tomatoes.  Salt and pepper to taste, cover and let cook for 10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and beans, and enough broth to cover everything.  Cook slowly for 2 hours, covered, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Add more broth or water as needed.
After 2 hours, add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes.  When pasta is done, the soup is ready to eat.  Serve hot, drizzled with a little extra-virgin olive oil.

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