Minestrone

Minestrone is a soup with ancient pre Roman origins. The word comes from minestrare 'to serve'. Many countries with ancient trading history have fine cuisines

 because of exposure to more diverse food and this can certainly be said of Italy. But before the Roman Empire which brought a great diversity of foodstuffs and spices coming from distant regions to Italy, the range of foods available in Europe was much more limited. The word frugal is derived from the Latin fruges which could

roughly be translated as 'fruits' but used in the old sense of 'fruits of the earth' and related to the kind of diet they had then, mainly cereals, pulses and vegetables.

Minestrone served in white bowl

 Minestrone recipes are flexible, using vegetables in season, therefore traditionally, in its ancient form it would use those vegetables native to pre Roman Europe. The ingredients can include carrots, peas, beans, lentils, cabbage, asparagus, turnips, onion, garlic or mushrooms. The soup is usually vegetable based but can contain meat or meat broth. Originally it was thickened with spelt flour porridge, today you are more likely to find it cooked with a 

little pasta. Sometimes a dash of animal fat could be thrown in. When potatoes and tomatoes arrived from the Americas they were added to the mix. Minestrone is today valued in Italy for its rustic quality. Such unpretentious dishes can be the most delicious as they have been proven by time.

The tender cooked dried  beans make this a truly hearty minestrone. The peppers and vegetables added green flavours. A tiny dash of exquisite Caroline Reaper chilli powder filled with aromatic warmth. It really stands out as a good healthy soup with perfect balance.


Preparation time: 15 minutes 
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Cooking time: at least 150 minutes
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Resting time: 0 minutes
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Total time needed: at least 2 H 45 minutes
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Grade of Difficulty: standard

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Serves 4




Ingredients
for
Minestrone Recipe

  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sized onion, quartered and sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. yellow asafoetida powder
  • 1 clove
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 1/2 cup dried black kidney beans, soaked in water for at least 5 hours
  • 250 grams / 8.8 oz. canned or fresh peeled tomatoes, diced
  • 4 cups of water
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 celery stick, diced, leaves roughly chopped
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 medium sized potatoes, diced
  • 250 grams / 8.8 oz. broccoli, stem diced, the rest cut into tiny florets
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 2 cups cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. dried mixed herbs
  • 2 tbsp. fresh basil leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground, (or to taste)
  • 1 steak knife tip of Carolina Reaper chili powder (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. pasta rice or spaghetti ground into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan or hard cheese of your choice, grated 



Directions

  • Add oil to a large pot and turn stove to medium hot heat
  • Add onions and saute them for about 5 minutes or till they are beginning to brown, stirring frequently
  • Add garlic, asafoetida, clove and bay leaf and saute for another 2 minutes
  • Add beans, basil, mixed herbs, tomatoes, water and vegetable stock, cover with lid and bring to the boil, reduce heat and let the soup gently simmer for 90 minutes, stirring a few times during this time
  • Add celery  (but keep leaves aside for later) and carrots and let soup simmer for another 30 minutes
  • Add potatoes, cabbage, peas, broccoli, salt, pepper and Carolina Reaper chili and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Add pasta rice and celery leaves, stir briefly and simmer all for another 10 minutes
  • Take of the stove add 3/4 of the Parmesan to the soup and cover again
  • Serve Minestrone hot with buttered slices of freshly baked bread




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