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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. For the soffrito, mince 1 stalk of celery, 1 medium carrot and 1 large onion. Set aside.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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.
  8. Add beans, simmer for another 30 minutes, and salt to taste. If you like, top with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano before serving.