From the Home Kitchen: Italian Minestrone

Minestrone in the pot

I was editing a podcast today in my studio and the subject of that podcast was Thanksgiving dinner. Now, I will admit that this has nothing to do with Thanksgiving. Actually, I was thinking of things I may try to prepare for the feast at my family’s gathering and thought that I really wanted a soup. We did chili this past weekend and it was good but I wanted something different. So, instead, I opted for minestrone. With the exception of the pancetta (that I had to hunt down) that I rendered down for the fat and will sprinkle on top of the finished product, there’s no meat in this. That’s odd for me. Most everything has to have meat for me to enjoy it.

But, still, I wanted to surprise Stephanie with dinner when she got home. She’s on vacation all next week and this starts “Uber-Weekend” so I wanted to do something awesome for her.

I got this recipe from Ashley (Baker by Nature) and really did very little to modify it but there are some edits but any variation isn’t significant to my version of the recipe.  Because I don’t do a lot of “recipe posts” I’m just going to list the ingredients and what I did with them.

  • 4 ounces diced pancetta (I had to hunt it down because “P” didn’t carry any. The HT did, though.)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I didn’t add these because her instructions didn’t say where to put them in and Stephanie doesn’t like things too spicy).
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 1½ cups green beans (trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (I make my own Italian Seasoning – that’s for another day)
  • 5 tablespoons tomato paste
  • (1) 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • (1) 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (for the diced and crushed tomatoes, I use Pomi chopped and Pomi strained which comes in 26.5 oz packages)
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken bone broth (slightly less than)
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef bone broth (no sodium added)
  • (1) 15 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • (1) 15 ounce can Cannellini beans
  • 1½ cups elbow pasta
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated

Minestrone in the bowl

  1. In my Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, I cooked the pancetta until crispy, slightly less than 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, I transferred the pancetta to a small plate on a paper towel and set aside. I left pancetta drippings in the pan and splashed in the olive oil and onion and let it cook until the onion was translucent.
  2. I then added in the celery, carrots, and green beans and cooked until they begin to soften but not too much. Tossed in the garlic and cooked it about 30 seconds; until fragrant. Then came the Italian seasoning and tomato paste. I also added salt and pepper at this time.
  3. Time, then to stir in the Pomi tomatoes, chicken broth, and beef broth before bringing that to a boil. I reduced the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. I then stirred in the kidney beans, Cannellini beans, and pasta and let that cook down about 10 minutes. I put the spinach in and cooked until it was all wilted.
  5. Once all that was done, it was time to remove it from the heat and stir in the basil and lemon juice.
  6. Ladled the soup into bowls, sprinkled the reserved pancetta bits on top and used a grater to shave some parmesan cheese over it, added a little hint of parsley to add bright green to it and, voila! Minestrone.

I was happy with the result. I do think it could have used a little more salt but that’s one of the things I keep pulled back. I can add S&P when I eat the next go-round. It paired nicely with the homemade pimento cheese that I made, too. Again, more on the pimento cheese in a later post.

If you make this, either from my modified recipe or from Ashley’s original, snap a picture and let me know. I’d like to hear about your results and thoughts.

Bon appetit!

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