Minestrone

A good summer soup for all those seasonal veggies via Serious Eats.

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For the Soup Base:

  • 4 ounces (115g) salt pork or pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice (optional) [I used 4 oz bacon, cut into 1/4 inch slices. I often cut the bacon strips in half, the long way, before cutting the slices.]
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 6 ounces; 175g)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced (about 3 ounces; 85g)
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced (about 3 ounces; 85g)
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons; 12g)
  • 1 pound (450g) ripe Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (if in season) OR 1 14-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand or chopped with a knife
  • 1 Parmesan rind (optional)

To Finish:

  • 1 cup dried small pasta, such as ditali, macaroni, or orecchiette (about 3 1/2 ounces; 100g)
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces (about 4 ounces; 115g)
  • 1 medium summer squash, cut into bite-size pieces (about 4 ounces; 115g)
  • 4 ounces green beans, cut into 1/2-inch lengths (about 115g)
  • 4 ounces spinach, roughly chopped (about 4 cups loosely packed leaves; 115g)
  • Chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, parsley, or rosemary, for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat pancetta/bacon (if using) and olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until pancetta has rendered fat and softened, but has not yet browned. (If omitting pancetta, heat oil just until shimmering.)
  2. Add onion, carrot, celery, and minced rosemary. Season with a big pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened but not browned, 10 to 15 minutes, adding more oil if pot appears dry or if vegetables are starting to stick to the bottom.
  3. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring, until most of their moisture has evaporated and the mixture starts to fry. (The sound should change from a sputtering simmering sound to a sharper crackle as vegetables start to fry.)
  5. Drain and rinse 1 can of beans and add them to the soup, along with the parmesan rind (if using) and 2 quarts of homemade vegetable stock, or store-bought or homemade low-sodium chicken stock. Let broth simmer for at least 10 minutes, but up to 30 minutes to increase flavor.
  6. Add pasta (unless you are planning on simmering for a long time; see step 7), zucchini, squash, and green beans and simmer until pasta and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes. Discard Parmesan rind, if used.
  7. Serve soup immediately as is, or continue simmering for up to 2 1/2 hours for a heartier texture and flavor (if simmering for a long time, add the pasta 10 to 15 minutes before serving). Alternatively, reserve half of soup on the side, continue to simmer the other half in the pot for up to 2 1/2 hours, and stir reserved soup back in for a soup that is hearty, but still has plenty of bright vegetable flavor and texture. Stir in chopped herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper before serving. 
     
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