Zuppa di Minestrone, although it’s possibly Italy’s most famous soup, there is no formal recipe for Minestrone. Mouth-wateringly healthy, it’s really a good, hearty, vegetable, beans and pasta soup. Bright beautiful colors, using whatever vegetables are the freshest and in season.
The soup has an ancient history, vegetable soups date as far back as two centuries B.C. and the early Romans. At that time, soups were a good way of using leftovers so they didn’t go to waste and anything and everything would go in the pot. It wasn’t until around the 17th century that the name Minestrone started showing up, and people were making the soup, not as a means to save leftovers, but because they just really wanted a Minestrone soup.
My version is vegetarian, but like I said, there is no standard for Minestrone, you can put whatever you want in it. The basic formula is fresh vegetables in broth, beans, tomatoes, and pasta.
One thing I always do, and I highly recommend you do this for all soups with pasta, is this. In order to keep the pasta al dente and the herbs a bright green, I cook the pasta separately from the soup along with the fresh herbs and spinach. And most importantly, I only add the pasta to the soup in the bowl.
The reason for this is if you have leftovers, the pasta will continue to absorb the broth and turn into mush. The herbs will continue to cook and will turn a horrible black or unpleasant grey color and green peas will lose all of their vibrant green colors and everything is just blah.
Once you cook soup this way once, you will never do it any other way. The added bonus is that it is a beautiful way to present and serve the soup to your guests.
Here’s my version of a Classic Zuppa di Minestrone:
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 8 Ounces Sliced Mushrooms
- 2 Carrots, cut into round slices
- 2 Celery Stalks, sliced (I like the stalks from the center for soup)
- 1 Garlic Clove, crushed and chopped
- 1 Leeks, quartered and sliced (washed well)
- 1 Yellow Squash, quartered and sliced
- 6 Cups Vegetable Stock
- 2 Cups Tomatoes, chopped (or 1-14 ounce can)
- 1 14 Ounce can Cannellini Beans
- 1 Teaspoon Basil, dry
- 1 Teaspoon Thyme, dry
- 2 ½ Teaspoons Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- ½ Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- 2 Cup Shaped Pasta, I use Ditalini or Macaroni
- 1 Cup Frozen Green Peas
- 3/4 Cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
- 3 Cups Fresh Spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 Tablespoon Olive oil
-Add Olive oil and mushrooms to a large pot and sauté until the mushrooms have released their juices and have started to brown
-Add all the fresh vegetables and dry herbs, reduce heat and cover, steam for 15 minutes, shaking the pot occasionally to prevent sticking
-Add stock, tomatoes, and beans, bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer, cover. Simmer for 30 minutes.
-Check seasoning, adjust if needed, check vegetables for doneness, I like them al dente
-Bring 2 quarts of water plus 3 tablespoons of salt to a boil, pasta water should taste like the ocean
-Add pasta and cook based on the instructions on the package
-Add the frozen peas to the boiling water for the last one minute of cooking, just to warm them through
-Drain pasta, add the chopped spinach and olive oil, stir and cover for 3 minutes to steam
-Add chopped parsley, stir
-Place desired quantity of pasta in the bottom of the bowl
-Ladle desired quantity of soup over the pasta
-Sprinkle with parmesan if desired
– Buon appetito!!!