Recipe excerpted from ‘Seven Seasons on Stowel Lake Farm’
AUTUMN HARVEST MINESTRONE
Minestrone is a classic Italian soup with a rich and varied history throughout Italy. I have fond memories of eating an excellent minestrone at a little trattoria in Montepulciano, served with country-style Tuscan bread on the side. This recipe begins with a soffrito: finely chopped carrot, onion and celery sautéed for half an hour to give the soup its depth of flavour.
Serves 4 to 6
WHAT YOU NEED:
- 1 cup dried white beans (or 1 796ml can cooked)
- 8 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 large onions
- 1 medium leek
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3 large celery stalks
- 4 medium carrots
- 1 zucchini
- 1 lb green beans
- 1 can (796ml) whole plum tomatoes
- 1 bunch kale
- 1/2 head green cabbage
- 5 cups vegetable stock (or water)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp salt (or to taste)
- 1 Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind (optional)
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
WHAT YOU DO:
- The addition of autumn harvest vegetables such as tender green beans, zucchini, fresh cabbage and kale make this a hearty, nourishing soup. Here on the farm this is the soup that we most often bake in a pumpkin for serving as a festive dish around Halloween. For the beans, we like to use cannellini or other small white varieties.
- Cover beans in water and soak overnight. Drain, add fresh water and bring to a boil with bay leaf and 1/2 an onion. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered until tender (about 45 minutes). Strain beans and reserve cooking liquid.
- For the soffrito, mince 1 stalk of celery, 1 medium carrot and 1 large onion. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large stock pot on low heat. Add minced soffrito vegetables and sauté, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown (about 30 minutes).
- Quarter the leek and slice 1/4 inch thick; mince 3 garlic cloves. Chop remaining celery and carrots about 1/4 inch thick; quarter and chop zucchini 1/4 inch thick as well. Trim green bean ends and cut into pieces about 1 inch.
- After the soffrito has reached a deep golden colour, add leek and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Turn heat to medium high and add celery, carrots, zucchini and green beans, stirring frequently until the vegetables are golden (about 6 to 8 minutes).
- Stir in reserved bean liquid, tomatoes, kale, cabbage, stock, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and optional cheese rind. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for about 1 hour.
- Add beans, simmer for another 30 minutes, and salt to taste. If you like, top with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano before serving.