This is my kitchen-sink soup. Whatever I've got, goes in. It comes from Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal, a combination of recipes and prose and one of my all-time favorite books about food. There are stains all over pages 112 and 113, where you'll find the recipe for her superb minestrone, which she describes this way..."Minestrone is much more than a bean soup; it is the complete expression of the bean's generosity, its raison d'être." At least three-quarters of the ingredients in this recipe are always in stock in my kitchen, which is one of the reasons I make it regularly. Each time I do, I use a slightly different mix of vegetables. I love it topped with pesto or tapenade, as suggested by Tamar. I love the flavor the hard-salami end imparts; but if I’m serving this to vegetarians, I leave that out, and it’s still incredibly delicious. The Parmesan rind is also key to making this soup sing. Hopefully you'll have leftovers, as it's even better on day two. It also freezes well.
Serves 6 (with leftovers)
- 1 cup each of diced onion, carrot, celery, fennel, leek (check out this video on how to clean leeks if you've never done it--they're very dirty)
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- A small pinch of chile flakes
- The end of a piece of cured meat or hard salami, diced
- 1 cup any combination parsley, thyme, marjoram, basil leaves
- 2 to 3 cups roughly chopped any combination kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, spinach,
- mustard greens, dandelion greens, broccoli raab, escarole, cabbage (cooked or raw), any stems and leaves, ribs, and cores, cooked or raw
- 1/2 cup whole tomatoes, well chopped, or drained canned tomatoes
- Optional: 1/2 to 1 cup chopped root vegetables (if they are there and need to be cooked, or cooked and need to be eaten)
- 6 cups cooked beans
- A Parmesan rind
- 8 cups any combination bean broth, stock, and liquid from cans of tomatoes
- 1 cup small pasta such as orecchiette, little tubes, or small penne
- Pesto, olive tapenade, fresh ricotta or parsley
- Cook the onion, carrot, celery, leek, fennel, and garlic in the olive oil until tender in a big pot. Add the chile flakes and any cured meat. Stir to combine.
- Add the herbs, greens, tomatoes, root vegetables, beans, and cheese rind, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot. Add liquid to cover. Simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, until everything has agreed to become minestrone.
- Just before you eat the soup, cook the pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water.
- Serve pasta in bowls topped with soup and garnish with pesto, tapenade or a big dollop of ricotta, or simply parsley.