2.17.15 Winter Minestrone
Minestrone has, for a long time, been one of my favorite types of soup. Maybe because it’s seems so simple, yet has such a surprisingly complex flavor. Maybe because it’s infinitely customizable. Maybe it’s because I can often use it as a way to clean out any stray vegetables hanging around the fridge. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because you can (and are actually encouraged) to top it with copious amounts of parmesan cheese.
Whatever the reason (okay, it’s the cheese), I’m always down for making a big pot of the stuff. I base my recipe on what sorts of veggies and other add-ins I can find readily available in the current season. This time of year, I find myself making a very veggie-heavy version (and after all the hot cocoa I’ve been drinking, this is probably a good thing), chock full of beans, root vegetables and hearty greens. I round out the flavor with some tomatoes, a healthy dose of garlic, some rosemary, and a splash of balsamic vinegar. And of course, most importantly, no bowl of minestrone is complete without a generous pile of parmesan cheese on top. Once stirred, the cheese will melt into the soup, leaving you with a little bit of cheesy goodness in every bite. This is vegetable soup at its finest.
serves about 6
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
- 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 leek, trimmed and sliced thinly
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- ½ tsp salt and pepper
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 14.5 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (such as Muir Glen)
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 15 oz. can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 bunch swiss chard, ribs removed and roughly chopped
- 1 bunch kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped
- grated parmesan for serving
1. Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, leek, carrot, fennel, rosemary, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Cook stirring often, until vegetables are beginning to soften, about 5-6 minutes.
2. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring to coat vegetables with the tomato paste. Add the canned tomatoes, broth, and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
3. Add the beans, chard, and kale, and stir to combine. Increase heat to medium, cover pot, and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until greens are tender. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve soup topped with grated parmesan cheese.