We're not sure we've ever had two minestrones that tasted the same—which makes sense, because minestrone is really meant to be a hodgepodge. This Italian vegetable soup usually has tomatoes, white beans, and greens, but recipes vary wildly. This one is a keeper. Hearty, rich, and packed with huge bunches (three kinds!) of greens.
There is one big caveat, something we didn't read carefully before starting on dinner last night. The soffritto, a mixture of pancetta, onions, carrots, celery, and Swiss chard stems, cooks for 45 minutes before you add the liquids and then simmer the actual soup (for another 40 minutes or so).
That's not an outrageous amount of time, but we glossed over the instructions and then didn't end up eating until 9:30 p.m.
It's worth it, though. This is a seriously filling soup, with big wads of Swiss chard, cabbage, and escarole in addition to the tomatoes, white beans, carrots, and onions.
We did make a few adjustments:
• We used bacon instead of pancetta, because we had some bacon that needed to be used. Our finished soup had a very pronounced bacon flavor, which was fine, but it teetered on overpowering. We might cut back next time.
• We used regular green cabbage instead of Savoy. Worked fine.
• The list of ingredients calls for 1 quart of water, but in the instructions, it reads, "Add hot water (3 qt)," which is confusing. Which is it? We split the difference and added 2 quarts. Three probably wouldn't have fit in our pot anyway, and two was plenty to hold all of the chunky ingredients.
• We did cook some pasta to serve in the soup, and we kept it separate so it wouldn't get soggy in the leftovers. We just add a bit as we warm up a bowl.
Want the recipe? Here you go:
• Winter Minestrone, from Gourmet
It makes a lot, but it's great left over.
Related: Quick Tip: Flavor Soups with Cheese Rinds
(Image: Elizabeth Passarella)