Our family loves Minestrone soup in the winter! It easy to make, nourishes our bodies and brings us together in ways we hadn't even thought of. Earlier this winter, when we all sat around the dinner table and I scooped up my first tasty spoonful of Minestrone, I was reminded of the wonderful trips I had taken to Italy - the people, their love of life and the glorious food.
My boys haven't traveled outside the country yet, but they love hearing stories about our travels or those of my parents and what better time to share them than at dinner.
This winter we have been doing that a lot. Whether it's talking about India while eating chicken curry or chatting about Japan over a cup of miso soup - the meal can truly transport us to another culture and time. It takes us to a place different from where we live and gives us some insight into how we can learn something new from every culture. Tonight it is Italy!
Minestrone to Italians means the "big soup." It is present in every region of Italy, with variations as to what seasonal vegetables, starch or protein the cook might add. Most Italians add or subtract vegetables according to the time of year, the only staples are onions, carrots, potatoes and beans. According to Marcella Hazan "A vegetable soup can tell you where you are in Italy almost as precisely as a map." In celebration of winter, I switched out potatoes for rutabaga and also added some dark leafy greens.
Enjoy taking a trip to Italy with our version of Minestrone soup!
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 large rutabaga, peeled & diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans, drained and rinsed.
4 cups organic vegetable broth
Piece of Parmesan cheese rind (optional – but highly recommended!)
½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Small bunch of kale, stems removed and torn into bite-size pieces
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen peas
2 T fresh parsley leaves, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, rutabaga, garlic, rosemary, 2 teaspoons sea salt and fresh pepper. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden.
2. Add tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. While simmering, add broth and Parmesan cheese rind (if using) to the pot. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Stir in the green beans.
4. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 15 minutes. Add cannellini beans, kale and peas. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Stir in parsley. Add more sea salt and pepper to taste. Spoon out and discard the cheese rind. Then serve with grated Parmesan and drizzle of olive oil.