Soup night: Minestrone

I’m 34 years old. I’m full-blooded Italian. I’ve been to no less than 20 Italian weddings. I’ve been to Italian weddings where soup was served, but I’ve never been to an Italian wedding where Italian Wedding Soup was served.

For the longest time, I thought Italian wedding soup was a marketing scam that Americanized something Italian or Italianized something American for the purposes of selling crap (see also Spaghetti-O’s, Chef Boyardee Beef-A-Roni, and/or The Olive Garden). It turns out that it was really the chicken-based escarole soup with meatballs that my family made for holidays.

This has nothing to do with minestrone soup, a fixture of any Italian home. But, my blog, my rules, my bitching.

/soapbox

The best minestrone I’ve ever had was made at the now-shuttered Pasta Luigi’s in Olean. It was herbs, veggies and more herbs. I couldn’t get enough of it. Pastabilities makes a nice version for lunchtime, but I was craving something closer to the Olean edition. This recipe is based on one I found on Chow.com, but with a few modifications. First, minestrone should be vegetarian, so I swapped vegetable broth for chicken. Second, I can’t get enough beans, so I added red kidney and lima to the mix. Also, I don’t buy dried beans. I’ve had far too many bad experiences picking through beans to make it worthwhile and it adds another hour or two on to the prep time. Goya makes perfectly good canned beans that are starchy enough to provide a thick bean liquid for cooking.

The Baby supervises the cooking process

Minestrone
Adapted from Chow.com

  • 2 cans great northern beans
  • 2 cans of any of the following beans: red kidney, lima, garbanzo
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium celery stalks, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced*
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced*
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped*
  • 1 26-28 oz. can of diced tomatoes with juices
  • 6 ounces frozen cut green beans
  • 2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 15 oz. cans of vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup ditalini, tubettini, or other small pasta (forgot these)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley (from about 1/2 bunch)
    *: I cheated and bought two bags of Wegmans‘ large cut mirepoix. 
Set a fine mesh strainer over a medium to large bowl. Pour the great northern beans into the strainer. Rinse out the cans with cool water and pour over the top. Set aside.
Heat the butter and oil in a large stockpot. When the butter foams, add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic and cook 7-8 minutes, or until the onion and celery is soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes with their juices and stir (scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan), and cook until the juices are almost completely reduced, about 2 minutes.
Add the green beans, zucchini, remaining beans, and the broth and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini just begins to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the bean liquid and parsley and stir in. Return the pan to a boil, then remove from heat and let stand in a cool area (garage, back porch) for a couple of areas.
When you are ready to serve, return the soup to a boil. Add the pasta and cook in the soup. Serve hot.
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