Traditionally the classic slow-cooked minestrone or ribollita are well cooked and dense. The vegetables in this version are cooked quickly preserving their bright color and texture. Preparing a “dry” base allows you to extract and concentrate flavors much more quickly. Like most soups and stews (and I think just about everything) the flavor improves when left to rest overnight. When I reheat the stew I will often add one fresh chopped and cored Roma tomato and a handful of fresh baby spinach…
- 1 medium onion, diced
- ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
- ¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano, or 3 tablespoons fresh minced
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 1 medium carrot diced (no need to peel organic, just scrub)
- 3-4 small new potatoes, diced into ½ inch cubes
- 4 cups of vegetable broth or water
- 3 cups of cooked or canned low sodium beans (Barlotti, Roma, or Cannellini)
- 2 fresh ripe Roma tomatoes, diced
- 4 tablespoons of tomato paste (I use the Italian concentrate from the tube, more economical)
- 1 medium head of escarole or collard greens, washed WELL and coarsely chopped (may go half and half for variety) about 6-8 loosely packed cups. Escarole does not need to be pulled from the rib, the collard should have the tough ribs removed
- 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (more to taste) A touch of vinegar in food can go a long way to reducing the amount of salt needed to enhance flavor…
- Olive oil
- One slice of toasted rustic bread about 4 inches long per serving/bowl…The outer edges gently (lightly) rubbed with a little fresh garlic…. Toast bread under broiler on one side only.
Heat a large soup pot on medium. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the onions, basil, parsley, oregano and garlic. Gently saute, stirring often, for a few minutes until the onions are soft and the herbs fragrant and almost dry, about 5 minutes. Add the celery, carrots and potatoes and continue sautéing and stirring for about 3-5 minutes. Add the broth or water and bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Next add the beans, the tomatoes, the tomato passata and the escarole (greens). Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the greens are wilted and tender. Add in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve place the garlic-rubbed bread into the center of a shallow bowl, and top with a ladle of hot soup. In Italy, we also dress the soup with a quick drizzle of olive oil and fresh ground pepper….
Tips and options…
It’s important when doing a food demo (or photo) to use a shallow soup dish. This allows us to see the bread and gives a visual of a proper portion size….
The herbs and garlic may be pulse processed rather than chopped or minced.
May also add 1 cup of frozen peas, lima beans, green beans or any frozen vegetable…
May substitute the escarole with spinach or collard or any greens that cook in under 15 minutes
May substitute the onions with leeks (white parts) or diced fresh fennel
May leave out the potatoes and the bread alternatively adding 2 cups of pre-cooked small
May substitute pasta, any shape, in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
May also prepare using only the garlic, onion, herbs, broth, white beans and escarole over the garlic-rubbed bread with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous grind of black pepper.
Any small bits of leftover salad or vegetables you may have in the fridge, feel free to drop in…I will often repurpose leftovers. I often have small amounts of tomato salad with basil and red onion, dressed in a little oil and vinegar left over. The tomato and arugula may be too soft to enjoy as a salad but works beautifully in this soup/stew. Leftover vegetables, greens, beans and grains are usually flavor dense and make great additions to soups and stews. (Why throw perfectly good food away?)