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Minestrone Soup Two Ways

Do you love a bowl of hot soup on a winter day? Do you get a kick out of creating something delicious while using some of the odds and ends that may be lingering in the fridge? Do you like to get more than one meal out of all your effort? Here’s a very flexible recipe that is warming, nourishing and satisfying all in one bowl…and it is followed by a way to use it as a base for another meal. Feel free to use other vegetables, herbs, beans or pasta in your creation.

2 T. olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 large carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks with leaves, sliced
1 leek, washed well and sliced
6 large cloves garlic, sliced
1 portobello mushroom, cleaned and chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
2 T. tomato paste
2 T. fresh basil, chopped
2 t. paprika
2 c. kale, coarsely chopped
6-8 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1 can rinsed and drained cannellini beans
28 oz. can whole tomatoes, crushed
2 small zucchini, sliced
a handful of fresh spinach, chopped
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot and then add the onions, carrots, celery and leek. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, or until vegetables soften, stirring often.

Clean the mushroom and, using a small spoon, remove the gills.

Add the garlic and the mushrooms in the last 5 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and stir in the tomato paste, basil and paprika, cooking for a further 3 minutes. Add the kale, cannellini beans, tomatoes, zucchini, spinach and broth. Bring the soup to a simmer, partially cover the pot, and cook for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Baked Ribollita
There are many different versions of Ribollita, all using minestrone soup as a base, but many just add stale bread to the soup which makes it thicker and more stew-like. But I like this baked one, which should be assembled and refrigerated the night before, because it becomes a whole new dish, wonderful as a vegetarian main course. The exact measurements of ingredients depends on how much soup you have left over and how many servings you want. Just make sure that there is about 1 part bread to 3 parts soup. I’ve made it with cheese bread which adds even more of a rich cheesy taste. Just add a green salad and you have a hearty meal.

Rub chunks of stale bread with garlic, tear it into bite-sized pieces, scatter them in a baking dish and ladle on the minestrone, almost covering the bread. Tuck grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese under and around the bread pieces. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Bring the casserole to room temperature, then sprinkle it with a little extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and more cheese. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350º for about 45 minutes or until hot and bubbling. Uncover and bake for another 5-10 minutes to brown the top.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sally #

    You really are something! I love your approach. I like to throw things together that taste good but I don’t want to be told it has to be just this way or that…so thanks for this one!

    January 18, 2012
    • I love that you’re tuning in from afar, Sally. I’ll look forward to hearing what you threw together from your fridge (?) in Africa.

      January 21, 2012

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