I’ve joined a group of lovely ladies, who for one day only (November 12, 2019) will post their favorite Soup Recipes and Blog Swap. Just the perfect timing as our winter fast approaches! I’ve posted my very favorite soup recipe, Classic Italian Minestrone below but if you click here and click here for the next soup in line, you will find the other recipes the ladies of the group have posted. Happy cooking!
As an Italian, food is very important to me and my family. Many Italians who first came to America emigrated from poor rural areas. Mothers quickly learned that if their families were to thrive and survive, they had better eat healthy and well! All with their keen eye on finances.
While my two daughters were growing up, I made sure every night they helped out in the kitchen both in preparing the dinner meal and the clean up afterwards. I made it a point that each night’s dinner was to be eaten together as a family. Absolutely no TV or distractions. It was the most perfect time where we all would gather together in the kitchen and discuss our day, our concerns, our hopes and our dreams.
The Classic Italian Minestrone Soup is really a full meal in one pot. It contains everything to make your bowl of soup the most perfect, balanced meal: it is chock full of vegetables and protein! You can also make it vegan by eliminating the pancetta, substituting vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth and by not topping it off with grated Parmesan cheese (which in an Italian kitchen is a mortal sin!) Happy cooking:
- 1/4 cup virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup diced pancetta (or thick bacon cut into bite sized pieces)
- 1 onion, chopped into bite sized pieces
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
- 2 medium ribs celery, chopped into bite sized pieces
- 2 cups chopped bite sized zucchini pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 large can diced tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 bay leaves
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup ditalini pasta
- 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups baby spinach or kale, chopped
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnishing (optional)
- In a large Dutch oven or stockpot heat up the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the pancetta and saute’ for a minute or two. Add in the chopped onion, carrot, celery, and salt to taste. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened and the onions are turning translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic, oregano and thyme. Cook, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.
- Pour in the diced tomatoes and their juices, broth and water. Add the salt, bay leaves and red pepper flakes. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper.
- Raise heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover the pot with the lid, leaving about a 1” gap for steam to escape. Reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Cook for 15 minutes, then remove the lid and add the pasta and the beans. Continue simmering, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the the pasta is cooked al dente .
- Add in the zucchini and the spinach and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes until the zucchini is tender. Do NOT over cook otherwise the zucchini will melt away!
- Remove the pot from the heat. Remove the bay leaves. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Garnish bowls of soup with grated Parmesan cheese.
- Any extra soup can be easily frozen for another meal later on. I always freeze any leftovers into individual plastic containers for those nights when I am either too tired to cook or feel a cold/flu coming on. Minestrone soup is a pure classic comfort food. Enjoy.