Friday, October 4, 2013

Mostly Minestrone Soup

A bowl of Italian restaurant minestrone was a disappointment earlier this week and I was left craving a good bowl of minestrone soup. I wanted something hearty but not too heavy, robust without any one flavor note dominating the taste. Generations of Italian families have created countless versions of this soup, so how difficult could it be? Hah! more difficult than it seems when you begin with an ideal taste in your mind, no family recipe to fall back on, and w-a-y too many variations available online. 

Today's kitchen experiment was one step closer to a really good bowl of soup, with no claim to it being authentic Italian. This was a spur of the moment creation and I didn't bother to take any notes on ingredients or procedure as I went along. The result was surprisingly good, so here is a close approximation of what went into today's Mostly Minestrone Soup. This may not be the ultimate recipe I've been searching for (link), but today it was just fine, thank you.

Do you have a minestrone soup recipe to recommend?

Mostly Minestrone

2 tablespoons bacon grease, or canola oil
   (I cooked 2 bacon strips and added the bacon to the soup along with the beans) 
2 links Italian or Andouille sausage, in thin coins or crumbled
½ medium onion, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 large stalk celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 heaping teaspoon mixed Italian herbs
4 cups tomatoes, chopped
   (I used cherry tomatoes that needed to be used immediately)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup beef broth
1 bay leaf
several chunks of Parmesan rind
juice & zest of 1 small lemon
1 can cannellini beans, or any white bean
1 cup green beans cut into short lengths
2 cups (packed) fresh baby spinach leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Add per each bowl, to serve:
handful of cooked short tube pasta
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Shredded parmesan cheese
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium; add sausage coins and cook until browned on both sides but not crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage and set aside.
  2. Add the onion, red pepper, celery and carrots to the sausage-flavored oil in the same pan and cook to soften but not brown. Add the Italian herbs and stir to mix. 
  3. Add the tomato chunks and any juices; cook until the tomatoes break down (maybe 10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add the broths, parmesan rind and bay leaf; simmer uncovered over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the lemon, green beans and spinach and gently simmer for another 5 minutes to heat through.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  6. To serve: Add a handful of cooked pasta to each bowl. Ladle in some broth to warm the pasta; add some solids and more broth. Top with a splash of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of parmesan.
1. The soup needed a bit more liquid so I added a ladle of the pasta cooking water to the pot when I added the beans and spinach. It didn't seem to affect the flavor, but next time I might add more broth earlier.
2. Top each bowl with fresh basil or Italian parsley for a fresh flavor pop.


  1. Ina Garten aka Barefoot Contessa has a good minestrone recipe.

  2. Ina's recipe sounds delicious... even big time food blogger Michael Ruhlman loves it. Read his comments and check out the recipe at


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