Saturday, December 3, 2011

Il Minestrone

Copyright 2011 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Minestrone is one of my favorite soups but I have abstained from it for some time now due to the fact that this rich soup is just a bit too rich for my own good. However, I am willing to revisit this dish after seeing a much healthier version of the soup that features more vegetables without the pasta added to it. My last minestrone soup was back in the late 90s as a graduate student at Florida. We frequented this Italian restaurant that serves minestrone with their take-out pizza. Their soup was really thick and cheesy but definitely calorie-loaded. 

This recipe from Sophia Loren actually urges you to change the recipe to suit your tastes in terms of the vegetables you add to the soup. The potatoes thicken the soup so add more water if you want your soup on the lighter side. You can also add more meat if you so desire but the small amount required is enough to give this soup the wonderful rich flavor that you'll want seconds. 

Il Minestrone - Adapted*

2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 lb pancetta or bacon or ham
1 large onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3-4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 small zucchini, diced
1 bunch collard greens, roughly chopped
1-2 stalks, celery, diced
2 small yellow squash
1 15-oz canned Cannellini or Great Northern beans
2 tomatoes, diced
salt and pepper
hot water

1. Heat the oil in a deep pot over medium heat. Saute the onion and cook 
    until softened. Add the ham and cook for five minutes more. 

2. Add the vegetables except the beans, collard greens and tomatoes and 
    saute for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Add enough hot water to 
    cover the vegetables. 

3. Heat the soup until boiling. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or 
    until the vegetables are tender especially the potatoes. 

4. Check the soup for taste and adjust accordingly. Add the tomatoes, 
    collard greens and the beans and simmer for another 5 minutes.

5. To serve, ladle into bowls and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. 

* Loren, S., Sophia Loren's Recipes and Memories, GT Publishing, New York: 1998.

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