Monday, October 24, 2011

Minestrone: Season-Ending Scraps, Tips and Stems

When not raking leaves, helping Betty feed the world, or doing laundry, I spent the weekend making minestrone soup with the diminishing remainder of my summer crops and other food that I had put up earlier in the season. Other than the cheese, meat and oil, all other ingredients are garden produce. There is a lot of stopping and starting with this recipe. You won’t spend a lot of time standing over the stove (and could probably use a slow cooker for parts of it), but this is a two-day event.

· ½ pound of dried white beans (such as Romano, great northern or cannelli)
· ½ pound pork (i.e., chopped ham, sliced and chopped bacon or panetta)
· 1/3 cup EVOO
· 1 chopped onion
· ¼ cup chopped carrot
· 1 chopped stalk of celery
· 3 cloves chopped garlic
· 3/4 cup shredded zucchini
· ¼ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into ½ inch pieces
· ½ pound potatoes, chopped into ¾ inch chunks
· 3 cups shredded cabbage
· ¼ pound chopped kale leaves
· 3 pints chopped tomatoes
· 2 pints chicken stock
· 1 cube pesto

1. Soak the beans in a large bowl overnight with enough water to cover them by at least three inches. The next day, drain the beans and then cover them again by at least two inches of water and simmer them uncovered for 45 to 60 minutes, or until they are tender. Add a bit of salt and turn off the heat.
2. In your dutch oven, cook the meat in the oil over moderate heat. Stir every two minutes.
3. Chop the onion and add to the meat. Stir.
4. Chop up the carrot, garlic and celery and add to the pot. Stir.
5. Shred the zucchini, chop the green beans and potato and add to the mixture. Stir.
6. Chop the cabbage and kale and add to the mixture. Stir.
7. Add the tomatoes and stock. Stir and cover for 45-60 minutes.
8. Spoon half the beans into a food processor with a slotted spoon and puree them. Add the puree to the pot and stir.
9. Spoon the remaining beans with a slotted spoon into the pot. Stir.
10. If the soup is too thick, add some of the bean water. Otherwise, discard the water.
11. Take the cube of pesto and throw it in the pot and stir it slowly until it is completely dissolved.
12. Taste the soup. Add salt and pepper if you think it necessary.

Some people use pasta instead of potatoes. If you are one of those people, omit the potatoes and add ½ cup of pasta with the beans and a cup of the bean water.

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