Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hearty Minestrone

Minestrone is, simply put, a hearty, thick Italian vegetable soup. Usually it includes some beans and often pasta, though I think the inclusion of pasta can be a bit overkill. I suppose it just comes down to an individuals personal taste. Minestrone is diverse, and can include just about anything one can find to throw in a pot, making it pretty much a stone soup, sans the stone.

Minestrone is considered one of the cornerstones of Italian cuisine, and has roots stating back to the Roman Empire. The minestrone the Roman soldiers lived on was far from the modern version: they didn't even get to enjoy the more recent additions of tomatoes and potatoes that American cooks started utilizing in the mid 16th century. Other than slight tweaks though the ages, the soup often stays true its roots by using local, season vegetables.

So, now that you are aware of the history of minestrone, here's the recipe for a batch I whipped up while visiting my mother the other day. Have at it.

A Minestrone Recipe:

1 can (28 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes
6 cups water
3 cups chopped kale
2.5 cups cubes potato
3 large carrots, chopped
1 large white onion, chopped
2 cups cooked kidney beans
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 small can (2.25 oz) sliced black olives, juices drained
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
small pinch nutmeg
1/2 tsp taragon
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry red wine
Fresh Italian parsley and nutritional yeast to garnish

In a medium soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. add onion and stir for 5 min, or until the onions start to turn translucent. Add the chopped garlic and spices (except salt) and heat until onions start to brown (be careful not to burn the garlic). Add in tomatoes, water, potatoes, and beans, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add in kale, balsamic, red wine, and salt and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots are tender. Remove from heat, add in olives and more salt to taste, if necessary. Spoon into bowls and top with fresh parsley and nutritional yeast if desired.

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