In the Kitchen: Minestrone

"Minestrone" being a fancy, furrin word for "vegetable soup."

Every year about this time I make up a large pot of it. I portion it into containers and freeze it and then it's ready to during the year-end rush when we usually have family around. (This year the family doesn't get any: I'm stocking the freezer in preparation for the kitchen remodeling that will start the second week in January. Although "stuffing the freezer" is more like it; I'm filling every inch with enough food to last the three months with no kitchen.)

I don't know where I got this recipe. I think it orginally came from Gourmet magazine, but I'm not sure. In any case, I've been making this for about twenty years and it never fails to satisfy.

As always with a dish like this, the quantities and components are up to the cook. For example, I can't find good cannellini, and am too lazy to cook dried ones, so I used canned navy beans. I rarely remember to add the pesto (although it's a marvelous addition if you can remember). Etc.

At our house, this makes 12 servings, but we're old and eat small portions.

  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 1 c. chopped carrot
  • 1 c. chopped celery
  • 1/2 c. chopped leek
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 T. butter
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 8 c. beef stock
  • 35 oz. canned tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 c. diced potato
  • 2 cans navy or cannellini beans, drained
  • 1/2 c. peas
  • 2.5 c. zucchini, chopped
  • 2.5 c. green beans cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2.5 c. peeled, cubed eggplant
  • 2 c. mushrooms, sliced thick
  • 4 c. shredded cabbage
  • 2 c. shredded spinach (frozen is fine)
  • 1/2 c. small pasta (I usually use orzo)
  • 3 T. chopped parsley
  • 2 T. pesto
  • a piece of parmesan rind

You need a large pot; I use my stock pot. Heat the butter and olive oil and add the onion, carrot, celery, leek, and garlic. Cover with a piece of wax paper and then cover the pot and sweat the vegetables for ten minutes.

Remove the wax paper (please!) and add the stock, tomatoes and their juice, potato, beans, peas, zucchini, eggplant, green beans, peas, and mushrooms, as well as salt and pepper. If you don't have any pesto, toss in a handful of basil. Bring to a boil and then simmer for two hours (or whatever).

Stir in the cabbage, spinach, pesto, pasta, and cheese rind. Simmer another 30 or 40 minutes. Add the pesto and taste for salt and pepper.

Slice the bread, pour the wine. Be happy!