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Minestrone Soup

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    Minestrone Soup

    Just realized that I never posted my final recipe on this, so here goes

    Overview

    I have eaten this soup off and on through the years and NEVER liked it. But it is a much loved soup. And it involves beans. So, I should like it. I was talking about soups with my wife the other day and I’m came to the conclusion that all the minestrone I had ever had was thin, watery, and bland.
    Now, that just doesn’t seem like something an Italian grandma would actually make in her kitchen. So, I started researching and investigating and here we go. This is the first run at it, so obviously will need some work and tuning.

    Some of the things that I recognized needed to be changed from the minestrone I’ve experienced

    Beans - Canned kidney beans. No, no .... replace those with Cannellini that you cook yourself
    Veggies - there should be LOTS of veggies in the soup. It should be hearty
    Base - Make your own beef stock. The stock you buy in the store is not particularly flavorful or robust. If you are going to use store bought, then get Better than Bouillon or a bone broth.
    Secret ingredient I discovered - traditional Italian minestrone includes a rind or two from Parmesan wedges
    Order of cooking - the order you cook in and when the ingredients are added to the pot are very important. Otherwise you end up with soft, squishy veggies, undercooked beans and pasta, etc
    Cutting the ingredients - The veggies, pasta, and beans should all be just about the same size. As should any diced ham, beef, or other meats added to the soup. This gives a consistent mouth feel AND no one ingredient overpowers another.
    Steps to this recipe
    1. Cook the beans
    2. Create the soup base
    3. Cook the pasta, potatoes, and beans
    4. Add your veggies
    5. Finish and serve

    Ingredients - this amount will serve 8

    Beans
    • 8 oz dry Cannellini beans (I use Rancho Gordo’s Marcella beans) OR 2x 15 oz cans of Cannellini beans
    • 3 cups chicken stock (for cooking beans)
    • 1/2 cup beer - a lager of some sort
    • 1/3 medium onion, chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
    • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
    • 2 slices thick cut bacon, chopped roughly

    Soup
    • 1 cup white wine - not too expensive, something from Italy like a Pinot Grigio
    • 8 cups beef stock (for soup)
    • 2 slices thick cut bacon, chopped roughly
    • 2/3 medium onion, chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced/crushed
    • 1 leek, white portion only, chopped
    • 2/3 cup chopped carrot
    • 2/3 cup chopped celery
    • 1 1/2 cups chopped red potatoes
    • 2/3 cup peas or green beans - fresh is idea. Frozen if you don't have fresh. Never use canned, they will be mushy
    • 4 oz dry pasta - a smaller macaroni style is best
    • 1 can diced tomatoes
    • 2 rinds from parmesan wedges
    • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan (don’t wimp out and get not fresh)
    Optional: some sort of meat .... browned hamburger, diced ham, left over steak, diced .... whatever is handy and works for you. Probably want about a cup worth
    Optional: Other veggies .... could be zucchini, squash, eggplant

    Beans method - you may recognize this from every other time I talk about cooking beans :-)

    Note: if you are using canned beans, your beans prep consists of opening the cans and rinsing the beans.

    First, remember that if you are cooking Rancho Gordo beans there is no need to pre-soak, etc. If not, then follow your normal bean prep up to the point of cooking, then cook as I describe.
    • cut 2 slices of bacon up into chunks, brown in a medium sauce pan and then slowly cook until most of the fat is rendered.
    • Reserve the bacon, chop into small pieces, you will add it to the soup
    • Cook 1/3 cup onion in the bacon fat until translucent, about 10 minutes
    • Add garlic, cook til aromatic, about 1 minute
    • Add crumbled bay leaves, cook another minute
    • deglaze saucepan with the lager
    • add the beans and cover with stock by about 1”
    • Bring to a boil for 5 minutes
    • Reduce heat, add a lid, cracked open slightly, manage to a very low simmer. Basically 1-2 bubbles every minute, no more
    • Cook until ALMOST done .... we want to pull these beans 20 minutes prior to being done because they are going in the soup and will cook more there
    • Almost done means they still have a bite and are a bit grainy when you chew it.
    Now reserve the beans in the fridge to stop their cooking.

    Soup base method - this happens in stages so that everything ends up with a consistent level of done and texture
    • Add remaining two slices of bacon to a large soup pot (8 quarts is the right size), cook until rendered well and brown, but not crispy
    • Reserve the bacon, chop up, add to the other bacon from the beans
    • Cook onion, carrots, celery, leek in bacon fat until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes
    • Add garlic, cook until aromatic, about 1 minute
    • Add cup of wine, deglaze the pot
    • Add tomatoes, beef stock and cheese rinds
    • Cook at a simmer, lid partially open, for about 25 minutes until you have a hearty beef soup and the rinds are melted.
    • Remove the remaining chunk of rind that won't melt and discard
    Cook potatoes, meat, pasta, beans
    • Add potatoes, beans
    • Cook pasta in a separate pot until al dente, drain, keep warm but do NOT add to the soup yet
    • If you will have meat in it, add that now too
    • Chop all your reserved bacon to the same size as your potato dices and add to the pot
    • Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer and cook for about 15 minutes
    • Check that beans are near done
    • If they aren’t, go another 5 minutes, or so
    Finishing the soup
    • Add the peas or green beans and about a cup of Parmesan cheese
    • If you are doing other veggies, like zucchini or eggplant, this is the time to add them. Don’t do it earlier and end up with soft, blah stuff.
    • Cook at a simmer for another 5-7 minutes
    • Cheese should be melting and the peas should be heated through
    • As you serve into a bowl, add a couple spoons of pasta
    Serve with crusty bread, a Chianti, and some Parmesan on top

    Rancho Gordo Marcella's :-)
    Click image for larger version

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    Key ingredients
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    Look at those beans!
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    Veggies
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    Soup almost done
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    Soup is served
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    On the table!
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    Attached Files

    #2
    I have always felt the same about Minestrone soup. Might give this a try.

    Comment


    • ecowper
      ecowper commented
      Editing a comment
      I've made this 4 or 5 times now. It's pretty well tested. I can promise that my way is not thin or bland :-)

    #3
    Man, inspired by another soup post earlier ecowper pulls out all the stops. Outstanding writeup, love me some Minestrone !!!!

    Comment


    • ecowper
      ecowper commented
      Editing a comment
      I wrote about creating this recipe about 18 months ago. I've made it enough since then, I consider it "tested". Plus a friend followed it and got good results. I think this is ready to get into the future cookbook.

    #4
    Looks delicious and you inspired me to make my Tuscan white bean soup. A bit easier than your masterpiece, but I used some pork broth I had made. Plus it has collard greens in it, which I love.

    Comment


    • ecowper
      ecowper commented
      Editing a comment
      Tuscan white bean soup???? I have 4 lbs of Marcella beans just aching for me to cook something with them!

    #5
    Looks better than soup in a can.

    Comment


    • ecowper
      ecowper commented
      Editing a comment
      Ya know, I used to hate soup. Cause it came from a can. Then I learned to make my own soup. And now I love soup.

    • bbqLuv
      bbqLuv commented
      Editing a comment
      Fall soup, I need to learn to make it myself.
      Thanks for the encouragement.

    #6
    Excellent, an inspirin receipt, Brother!

    Ya had me at "beans" lol!

    Comment


    • ecowper
      ecowper commented
      Editing a comment
      It’s all about dem beans Brother Bones
      Last edited by ecowper; September 3, 2021, 08:38 AM.

    #7
    Yesterday our daughter said her stomach wasn't feeling great and so she wanted me to make some soup. I had had my eye on this recipe and jumped at the chance. Thanks, so much, Eric, this is another winner from you.

    I added the pasta at the end since we'll be splitting this with our daughter. Also, I played around a little at the end with a bit more salt and freshly ground pepper. Still wanted a bit of punch so I hit it with a couple splashes of Worcestershire sauce a hint of honey.

    I LOVE how hearty the broth is. I used bone broth from the grocery and I think I'm done with simple beef broth forever. The beans were Rancho Gordo Alubia Blanca. Definitely will make this one a few more times when the weather cools down.

    Click image for larger version

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    Comment


    • ecowper
      ecowper commented
      Editing a comment
      Jim, that looks awesome! Glad you like it. A bit of Worcestershire sauce would definitely amp up the savory/umami.

    #8
    Yeah, store-bought beef stock is meh. Bone broth here is $$$ ($7 or so for 12oz). So, I'll be hitting up the butcher for some beef bones to make stock with very shortly.

    This is going into the rotation and will use some of the Mayacoba beans I got from Alvarez Farms.

    Comment


    • ecowper
      ecowper commented
      Editing a comment
      I have found that my absolute best beef stock is made with short rib bones, FWIW

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