Via Fratta's Tuscan Minestrone Soup

 

Minestrone smells like Italy -- just like lasagna, tomato sauce, and the starchy water left in the pan after cooking pasta. This may be just another minestrone recipe, but I love how rich and deep it is, and how preparing it can be quite relaxing. This Tuscan-inspired fall minestrone is essentially Italy in a bowl. It is the way my mom, grandma, and great grandma have always done it. Serve warm, or not. If you purรฉe it with a blender your kids will love it. I call this 'Tuscan' because the traditional minestrone only calls for vegetables, and maybe some Cannellini beans. I enriched it with split peas and legumes to enhance the protein content. Making this from scratch requires some work, but it freezes wonderfully and you can keep it in the fridge to reheat for the next 2 to 3 days. Still, this soup is so heartwarming and comforting -- I could just eat it over and over again during the chillier days of autumn. Donโ€™t be afraid to throw in extra veggies: the more there are, the tastier it will be!

What you will need

1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves

5-6 sage leaves

1 large onion

3 medium carrots, scrubbed

1 long celery stalk, with leaves if possible

3 medium zucchini

2 medium potatoes, peeled

1 large wedge of pumpkin (about 1/4 small pumpkin, or 2 cups of 1-inch cubes)

3/4 to 1 cups tomato sauce

1 bunch of Swiss chard or Tuscan kale

1/2 cup lentils

1/2 cup split peas

1/2 cup borlotti beans (or any other kind you like)

1 organic vegetable bouillon cube (optional, but it does add a little boost)

A 3- by 4-inch piece of Parmesan rind (adds flavor, but skip if you are vegan)

1 heaping tablespoons coarse salt

Extra-virgin olive oil

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano (skip to keep things vegan)

Croutons (tossed with EVOO, rosemary, and garlic, then toasted)

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