Cooking School

Minestrone winter warm-up

Author: Canadian Living

Cooking School

Minestrone winter warm-up

Chunky vegetables, rich broth, nourishing beans, nuggets of pasta and a golden sprinkle of Parmesan -- that's amore, or minestrone. It's more than just a soup. Perfect for cold weather and lean times, minestrone has the look, taste and aroma that's satisfying enough for body and soul. Learn how to chop vegetables neatly and quickly and make a quick pesto dress-up for a soup recipe that tastes as good as it looks.

1 cup (250 mL) dried red or white kidney beans
1/4 lb (125 g) pancetta or bacon, unsliced
2 each cloves garlic and onions
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
8 cups (2 L) chicken stock
2 each carrots and celery stalks
Half small cabbage
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) tomatoes, mashed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp (5 mL) each dried basil and oregano
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
3 potatoes (1 lb/500g)
1 cup (250 mL) rotini, macaroni or tubetti
Pesto:
1 cup (250 mL) packed fresh parsley
1/4 cup (50 mL) olive oil
2 tbsp (25 mL) pine nuts or walnuts
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup (50 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Garden Minestrone: Use unpeeled new potatoes. Omit cabbage. Add 3 cups (750 mL) cubed zucchini and 1 cup (250 mL) peas with potatoes.

Pesto: Substitute basil for parsley; reduce oil to 2 tbsp (25 mL).

Instructions:
See step-by-step instructions with images.

1. In bowl, cover beans with 3 cups (750 mL) water. Cover and soak overnight; drain, discarding water. Cut pancetta into cubes; mince garlic. Trim stem end and peel onions; halve through root end.

2. With cut side of each onion down, make 2 or 3 horizontal cuts toward but not through root end. With tip of knife at root end, make vertical cuts without going through end. Chop onion into smaller pieces; discard root end.

3. In Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat; cook pancetta, garlic and onions for 5 minutes or until softened. Add beans and stock; bring to boil, skimming off foam. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 hour or until beans are tender.

4. With angled knife, diagonally slice carrots and celery; finely shred cabbage. Add to pot with tomatoes, bay leaf, basil, oregano, salt and pepper; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, peel and cube potatoes; add to pot along with rotini and simmer, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Discard bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasonings.

6. Pesto: In food processor, puree parsley, oil and pine nuts until smooth; transfer to bowl. Stir in garlic and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into soup bowls; top with 1 tbsp (15 mL) pesto.

Tips: You can make the soup ahead of time and refrigerate it for up to 5 days. To freeze it for up to 1 month, omit the potatoes and pasta. Add them when reheating by simmering, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender, adding more chicken stock if desired. Refrigerate the pesto separately for up to 5 days. To freeze it for up to 1 month, omit the Parmesan, then stir it in after thawing.

If desired, you can simmer a ham bone in the soup and discard before serving, instead of using the pancetta or bacon.

Makes 8 servings.

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Cooking School

Minestrone winter warm-up

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