February 6-7 Minestrone Soup

Feb 6   Leftover chicken chili and quesadillas again for hank but this time I made guacamole and        
             thickened up the soup so it was more like a scoopable chili
Feb 7   Minestrone Soup from Epicurious

 I spent Friday night (after I made pizza for the boys) and all day/night Saturday sick in bed. I thought I was better Sunday and so we went out for dim sum I and kind of over did it. Because of that, by Sunday night instead of cooking dinner like I had planned, I was laying down in bed again after heating up leftovers for the kid.

This week it was my turn to post on Sunday so that meant I would have to post Sunday, which I did, and then again Monday. Thich means I kind of am on the spot to make sure I cook something worth sharing on Sunday. That didn't happen this weekend so Dianne sweetly offered to switch with me and she took over my blog duties yesterday. Confused?

I was feeling much better yesterday so I could totally handle something a bit labour intensive BUT I also had to attend the Almost Famous Chef competition with Jen. This meant I had to make something that could just sort of be ready for the boys when they get home after 6pm. I know that if I don't leave them dinner, they would either order pizza or Shack would make pasta with tomato sauce, which are both fine but this entire endeavour is all about making better food habits and choices yadda yadda yadda.

It's cold, it's snowing and that says a hearty soup like minestrone is in order. I also wanted a soup that would fill them up enough that it would feel like a satisfying meal in itself and prevent them from ordering pizza after they finished their soup. I also baked a small loaf of my whole wheat cranberry/walnut bread ( I still have enough dough in there for one more small loaf).

I followed the recipe almost to a T, which is one of my goals but something I almost never do. To get out of my comfort zone, I have to stop just making up all of my own recipes. I want to discover new techniques, ingredients and seasonings and then, after this year is over, I can go back to just making everything up but I will have so many new things in my bag of kitchen tricks.

So, the only change I made was to switch out the escarole for kale. Shack has me terrified of using bitter greens and causing him to not want to eat stuff and we all really like kale. I even bought the ditalini pasta the recipe calls for. I am nothing if not dedicated to my task.

Also, the whole 45 minutes of browning the vegetables and the caramelizing of the tomato paste might seem like a waste of time, but it's not. It really results in a much richer, fuller tasting soup and worth the effort.

Winter Minestrone
adapted from Epicurious

Yield: Makes 8 servings
Active Time: 45 min
Total Time: 2 hr
1/3 pound sliced pancetta, chopped
2 medium red onions, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch Swiss chard
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice
3 quart hot water
5 cups coarsely chopped cored Savoy cabbage (6 ounces)
5 cups coarsely chopped kale leaves, discard stems (1/2 pound)
1 piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (about 3 by 1 1/2 inches)
1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (I used white navy beans that the nice italian lady assured me would be a perfect substitution)

Accompaniments: extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling; cooked ditalini pasta tossed with oil (optional); grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Cook pancetta, onions, celery, and carrots in oil in a wide 7-to 9-quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, while preparing chard. I actually used a wide braising pan for this part and then transferred all the veggies to a soup pot just before I added the water because I wanted them to really brown and not steam in my deep but narrow pot.

Cut out stems from chard and chop stems, reserving leaves. Stir chard stems into pancetta mixture with garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender and begin to stick to bottom of pot, about 45 minutes total. (Set aside chard leaves.)

Push vegetables to the side of the pan. Add tomato paste to cleared area and cook, stirring constantly, until it starts to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Stir paste into vegetables and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. (Paste may stick to pot, but don’t let it burn.)

Stir in tomatoes with their juice, crushing them between your fingers as you add them. Scrape all the goodness out of the pan and pour it all into a nice, deep soup pot,   scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pot,  then add hot water (3 quarts) to the soup pot that now contains your veggies and tomatoes.

Bring to a simmer. Stir in cabbage, kale and parmesan rind. Simmer, covered, until greens are tender, about 40 minutes.

Coarsely chop chard leaves and stir into soup along with beans. Simmer, partially covered, 10 minutes. Discard rind. Season soup with salt and pepper. If using ditalini, stir in just before serving or, if you don't plan to consume the entire pot at once, cook the pasta separately and add to each bowl before pouring the hot soup over top. I HATE pasta that sits in soup overnight and gets all swollen and absorbs up all the broth.

*Soup, without pasta, can be made 2 days ahead and chilled.


  1. It's a cold day in NC today and this soup sounds like just the thing to satisfy! It looks absolutely delectable... and now I'm hungry for lunch :p

  2. I just had a bowl for lunch myself! Unfortunately, although Shack and I love this soup, the kid doesn't and I didn't cut the recipe in half so now I have a giant pot of soup left so I know what I am eating for lunch for the rest of the week.

  3. I may have to make this as i have a ton of savoy cabbage leftover from my slaw over the weekend!

  4. This. Is. Gorgeous. I'm not the biggest soup fan but I just bookmarked this because it looks and sounds amazing.


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