Why couldn’t I find a good minestrone like this when I was in Rome? Well, I have my own theories. Many of which involve mass tourism, high rents and Rome not being an epicenter of culinary sophistication. When I think of Italian food, well, Tuscany, Trentino-Alto Adige, Campania, Sicily, etc. come to mind. Next time “amici”.
After spending a glorious week wandering around the awe-inspiring churches (e.g. Sistine Chapel), the Colosseum, Teatro Marcello (just behind our romantic abode) and loads of other historic landmarks it was time to make our way back to the polar vortex waiting for us back in NYC. I decided the first thing I was going to make was a fresh, fragrant, deep bowl of Minestrone with all the fixin’s. “Prego”.
- 7 cups of homemade pure chicken or veggie stock (a.k.a. juice from the heavens)
- 2 1/2 cups of deliciously ripe stewed tomatoes, orgasmic really
- 1 tbl of rough cut flat leaf Italian parsley
- 1/2 yellow onion (diced)
- 1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans
- 1 cup of artisanal Cavatappi (pasta)
- 1 handful of trimmed French green beans (I like them thin)
- 1 stalk celery (cut in angles)
- 1 medium carrot (cut in batons)
- 4 cloves of pungent garlic (diced)
- 1/2 cup fresh oregano from the Gods (leaves picked and separated)
- 1/2 cup fresh sweet basil from the other Gods (pagan style and with a chiffonade)
- 1/2 cup sliced zucchini (in batons)
- 2 tsp rock salt
- 1 tsp aromatic, fresh cracked pepper
- 1 tbl extra virgin olive oil (how do I love thee)
- Pecorino shavings (do this later – this will add more salt to the dish)
Why are there so many references to the heavens? After the Sistine chapel and a walk through the Vatican, it grows on you and for someone like me, food is my saviour.
Now, if you can get all these items prepped you’re almost there. The next part is pure timing and execution. Don’t give up, Antonio Carluccio would not like that and neither would Don Corleone.
- Bring the oil up to sauté mode.
- Throw in the onions for 2 minutes.
- Add all the cracked pepper.
- Throw in the garlic for 1 minute (don’t brown).
- Drop the celery into the mix.
- Add the basil, oregano and parsley but reserve a pinch or two for garnish.
- Add the tomatoes, cannellini beans and 6 cups of the stock. We reserve 1 cup to blanch the veggies.
- Let simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring that 1 cup of stock to a boil in a pot. Add the carrots, green beans, zucchini and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from stock and cool.
Taste your soup, does it need a little salt? Just remember we are going to use the Pecorino to add the salty / umami taste. We want to wait to add the other ingredients until the very last. We want the pasta to be “al dente” and the veggies fresh. If you are happy with the taste, then drop the pasta in and you will be ready to eat in 15 minutes.
Once the pasta is perfect, grab a nice deep bowl and fill it with a few ladles of your divine creation. Add your blanched veggies, a pinch of fresh herbs and a health amount of fresh Pecorino shavings.