13 Oct Fall Minestrone
Minestrone means “big soup” in Italian: a big soup of many vegetables. A tasty soffritto (a base of aromatic vegetables) made of celery, onion and herbs gives this soup a rich base and fall favorites like butternut squash and kale make it healthy and hearty. Traditionally, either white beans or pasta are thrown in at the end. In this version I decided to use both to make the soup a complete meal-in-a-bowl! As the season progresses you can also make a “winter” version of this using turnips, potatoes and cabbage in place of the squash and kale.
This recipe was an adaptation of Alice Water’s recipe from her book, The Art of Simple Food.
If you are planning on making this with beans, I first suggest soaking 1 cup dried cannellini beans in plenty of water (beans will swell) overnight so they cook quickly and retain a nice texture.
The next day when you are ready to make your soup…
-Strain beans and place in large pot with fresh water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender but not mushy. About 15-20 minutes. Strain cooked beans but keep the liquid for later.
-Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat and add 1 large onion, finely chopped and 3 stalks of celery, chopped. Saute until a rich golden brown color.
-Throw into soffritto:
1 bunch of kale or chard, roughly chopped
1 leek, diced
5 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of salt
-Cook for 5 more minutes until kale is wilted a bit
-Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Turn to medium-low heat and cook everything for 15 minutes with the lid on.
-Add 2 cups of butternut squash (about 1 small squash or 1/2 a large one) that has been peeled and chopped into 1/4 inch cubes. Cook for 15 more minutes. Taste for salt and add more if necessary.
-Add the cooked beans along with 2 cups of the bean cooking liquid and 1 cup of dried pasta (optional). Cook for 8 more minutes until pasta is tender. If soup is too thick, add more bean cooking liquid. Remove the bay leaf.
-Serve in bowls, each garnished with some extra-virgin olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese.
Recipe and photos by Jana Smart- Blooming Glen Farm employee and frequent creator of creative recipes using farm fresh seasonal ingredients. Check out more of her recipes on her food blog http://www.agrarianeats.blogspot.com/