Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Simple Dinners...Minestrone Di Romagna

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Right about this time of the year I dig deep into my recipe box and pull out my recipe for Minestrone.  I also spend a good ten minutes searching inside my freezer for that old rind of Parmesan cheese I put away in the summer.  The soup really doesn' t need a recipe, I know well what goes into it, but at my age, I just don't trust myself to remember all the extra goodies that I have added in the past to make it my own.

There is no right or wrong minestrone...there is just good minestrone.  In the north of Italy you will find rice in your soup, in the south, beans, or pasta and tomatoes.  The only constants are staples like carrots, celery, onions and potatoes.  At the end what you want is a dense and mellow soup that recalls no vegetable in particular, but all of them at once.  Don't leave out the potato, it gives it depth and helps to thicken the soup to its right consistency.

I prefer to use beef broth rather than chicken.  I also encourage you to make your own broth out of flank or another inexpensive cut of beef.  It makes a tremendous difference and it doesn't take long.  I usually keep some in the freezer for making soups in the winter.

The things that will make this soup especial and not just good are:

Homemade beef stock
San Marzano tomatoes
Old rind of good Parmigiano Reggiano

This soup is better the next day so plan ahead. It's also a great way to clean your refrigerator after the holidays!  It will keep in your refrigerator for 1 week.  Although I have never done it, it should freeze well.

Serves 6


1/2 cup olive oil

3 Tbs butter

1 cup thinly sliced yellow onion

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

2 cups peeled, diced potatoes

1 1/2 cups canned cannellini beans.**

2 cups diced zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)

1 cup diced green beans

3 cups shredded cabbage, preferable Savoy cabbage

6 cups homemade meat broth or 2 cups canned beef broth mixed with 4 cups of water

The crust of a 2 to 4 inch long piece of Parmesan cheese scraped clean (optional, but well worth it!)

2/3 cup canned  San Marzano Italian tomatoes with their juice

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Handful of chopped fresh chopped basil leaves for garnish.(optional, best in summer)


Choose a stockpot large enough for all ingredients. Put in oil, butter and the sliced onion and cook over medium-low heat until the onion wilts and is pale gold in color, but not browned. Add the diced carrots and cook for 2 to 3 minutes , stirring once or twice. Repeat this procedure in sequence with the celery, potatoes,  zucchini, and green beans, cooking each one a few minutes and stirring. Then add the shredded cabbage and cook for about 6 minutes giving pot the occasional stir.

Add the broth, the cheese crust, the tomatoes and their juice and a little bit of salt. (Careful with salt if using canned broth). Cover and cook at a very slow boil for at least 3 hours. If necessary, you can stop the cooking at any time and resume later. Minestrone must never be thin and watery, so cook until it is soupy thick.  

Fifteen minutes before the soup is done, add the canned or cooked dry beans. Just before turning off the heat, remove the cheese crust, swirl in the grated cheese, then taste and correct  for salt.
*I have added spinach at the end.

variation: sautéed 5-6 slices of bacon cut in 1 inch slices and 1 ham hock in olive oil.  Add 1 tb. Thyme fresh. Substitute the beef broth with 5 cups of water. Omit green beans. Omit cabbage and add Fresh baby spinach at the end.Shredded Parmesan when serving. 10/21/20 Excellent! 

***Goya, Cento and Progresso carry them

Recipe adapted from Marcella Hazan


  1. Julieta, this is precisely the soup I plan to make later
    today! But, and I hope this isn't heresy, there will be
    some spinach in it rather than zucchini which to my mind makes a soup bitter. Ah, I see where you've got
    a footnote allowing spinach....

  2. Julieta so wonderful this time of year!! Your recipe sounds delish!

    Art by Karena

  3. Well, it seems you and I are of the same mind - I was planning minestrone for the weekend. In this house it's the idea of minestrone that is off-putting to one of us but the actual soup is quite acceptable. I agree with Mr Worthington about zucchini being bitter - also another like/hate vegetable in this house. I cannot abide them and the Celt adores them.

    Tonight's soup is cauliflower with parmesan.

  4. Well, it's that time of the year, Blue and Toby...cold weather, warm & hearty soup. I am also not a HUGE fan of zucchini although I love it in casseroles so in this case do what you want. Spinach is terrific!

  5. Carmen Lourdes AmayaJanuary 11, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    I am loving all your recipes...and my husband too! I have just started following your blog and I am very happy that I found you. I have already made the split pea soup and the chicken fricasse. You need to write a cook book, your recipes are easy and delicous.
    I also love your comments about cuban-american traditions.
    Have a wonderful New Year!


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