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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Superb Minestrone

This was quite a bit of work, but soooooooo worth it.  This was I think the tastiest minestrone soup I've ever had!  This makes a ton, so I had one night of leftovers and then froze the rest for another cool night!

Makes about 10 cups (serves 6 - 8)


1/2 Lb (about 1 1/4 cups) dried white beans such as Great Northern, picked over and rinsed (to make ahead of time, soak in water overnight)
1/2 Tsp salt
1/4 Lb pancetta (Italian cured pork belly, available at specialty food shops) or sliced lean bacon, chopped (I, of course, used lean turkey bacon).
1/3 Cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 Large carrot, cut into 1/2" dice
1 Rib of celery, cut into 1/2" dice
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
2 zucchini, scrubbed and cut into 1/2" dice
1/4 Lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 Lb petite red potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4" dice
4 Cups shredded green cabbage
1/2 Lb kale, rinsed, drained, stems discarded and leaves chopped
1 28oz can tomatoes, chopped course and drained well
4 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
fresh grated parmesan cheese
optional sausage, sliced and cooked with bacon
fresh warm roll to accompany


In a large bowl, let the white beans soak in enough water to cover them by 2 inches overnight, or quick-soak them.  Drain the white beans.  In a saucepan, combine them with enough water to cover them by 2 inches and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour or until tender.  Add the salt and simmer another 5 minutes.  Remove the pan from heat and let the white beans stand, uncovered.  Set aside.

In a heavy kettle, cook the pancetta (or bacon, and sausage if including sausage) in the olive oil over moderate heat, stirring until it is crisp.  Add the onion, and stir until onion is softened.  Add the carrots, the celery, and the garlic and stir for 4 minutes.  Add the zucchini, green beans and potatoes and stir for an additional 4 minutes.  Add the cabbage and kale and cook the mixture, stirring until cabbage and kale is wilted.  Add tomatoes and broth and simmer the soup covered, for at least 1 hour.

Drain the white beans, reserving the liquid.  In a food processor, puree half the beans with 1 cup of the reserved liquid.  Stir the puree and the remaining whole beans into the soup.  Simmer, and add the remaining reserved liquid, if needed, to thin.  Season soup with seasonings of choice (I used some crushed red pepper, oregano, italian seasoning, salt and pepper).

Serve soup with fresh grated parmeson on top, and a warm bun on the side.

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