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Nina’s Minestrone

This time of year, part of the evening ritual is chopping some firewood and lighting the slow combustion stove.  I’m not a huge fan of winter but I do like the stove. It’s a lovely old Rayburn we bought second hand about 20 years ago, probably half a century or more old. It warms the house, the hot water, the dinner, and the rising bread all at the same time.

Burning wood creates greenhouse gases, but we plant more than we burn so we come out ahead, and chopping wood is a nice bit of daily exercise. It also means it is easy to keep a pot of stock going and that makes winter soups something more than a fallback meal.

It also means I am really glad of all the beans I dried when they were in glut back in early autumn.  Minestrone with white beans is peasant food straight out of the garden, that deservedly ends up on restaurant menus.

The Recipe:

Soak about 2/3 of a cup of white beans for a couple of hours, then cook them by simmering for about 40 minutes or pressure cooking for about 20 minutes.  (It will vary depending on the variety of beans).

Meanwhile, saute in olive oil (all finely chopped)

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • a carrot
  • the stem or core of cabbage or radicchio

When they are just beginning to brown, add 2 cups of vegetable stock (or, if you don’t have stock, 2 cups of water and a swig of soy sauce).

Add some:

  • chopped tomato if you have it,
  • finely chopped basil and/or oregano,
  • ground black pepper,
  • finely shredded cabbage or radicchio.

Traditionally you also add macaroni but I like my minestrone without pasta.

Simmer until the vegetables are cooked.  Add the cooked beans, with as much of their cooking water as you need to make the consistency right.

The final garnishes are important.  Taste and add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.  Serve into bowls then add a dribble of good olive oil and a generous sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan.

It makes two large bowls for dinner, or four smaller ones as a light meal or starter.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial July 5, 2010, 6:02 pm

    Perfect..and serendipitous! We’re making something similar for dinner – “survival soup” – ours starts with a donated free range ham bone and some parmesan rinds from our local deli, and is padded out with everything in the fridge and pantry – tonight it’s lentils, root veges, tomatoes, garlic chives and leeks. I’d quite like to leave the pasta out, but my teenagers will object! 🙂

  • Linda July 6, 2010, 8:50 am

    Yes, my teenagers would have objected too! It has been an interesting challenge to change recipes now that I don’t have any boys growing several centimetres a day to feed. Now the only centimetres we have to watch growing are around our middles!

  • Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial July 6, 2010, 9:36 am

    It’s part of the reason we started trying to cook more at home. Our sons are sooo starving all the time that it’s the only way to ensure they’re not consuming vast quantities of crap. A good example – we bake all our own bread – haven’t bought a loaf in over 3 years and one of the best things about doing that is that I’ve been able to reduce the salt. Our bread has 30% less salt than commercial loaves. It’s not a big deal when they’re eating a slice or two a day, but my boys will eat half a loaf each at lunch! Our youngest ate two and a half homemade pizzas for lunch a couple of days ago! Blows my mind sometimes.. 😉

  • Jane June 8, 2017, 7:41 am

    I made a pot roast that produced some gorgeous gelatine that needs to be used. I also have lots of cabbage in the fridge and beans in tins. They will make a great minestrone soup that will use what I have. So inspired by you, yet again. Many thanks.

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