Thursday, February 16, 2012

Minestrone My Way

I had my first bowl of minestrone at The Olive Garden many years ago.  As I recall, I liked the salad and breadsticks more than the soup.  Since that introduction, I've ordered it many times in many places and have made a number of versions.  One of my favorites is made by a dear friend from her mother's recipe.  Perhaps I'll persuade her to share with you someday.

There are probably as many versions of minestrone among Italian cooks as there are of vegetable soup among American cooks.  On both sides of the Atlantic, some argue that the soup(s) need to be made ahead and "rest" in the refrigerator for a few days before serving.  My vote is for both enjoying a bowl as soon as the soup is ready and for enjoying a bowl a few days later.  It also freezes well so make the whole recipe and squirrel away some for a snowy or rainy or sunny day.

The addition of the parmesan rind is a real boon to the soup.  It takes us awhile to whittle away at a chunk of parmesan so I purchase the rinds at Whole Foods.  I've also seen them in cheese shops.  They are usually around three dollars for a pint (or so) that can be popped into the freezer until needed.  You can omit the rind and the soup will still be very good.

While the typical bean for minestrone is the cannellini, the pantry held some dried flageolet.  These small, kidney-shaped beans range from a creamy white to pale green and are French in origin.  They cook up fairly quickly and hold their shape nicely.

Is there anything more comforting than a pot of soup bubbling away on the range?


8 ounces dried great northern, cannellini or flageolet beans
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1/2 cup chopped leek, white and a bit of the light green stem
1/2 cup rough chopped carrots
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp crushed dried rosemary
2 cups diced tomatoes and their juices
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
1 small head Savoy cabbage (about 3 cups) cut into thin strips
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 medium zucchini, halved length-wise and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 rind of parmesan (about 1/2 x 4 inches)

1.  Rinse and sort through the beans.  Put them in a large pot and cover with water.  Soak for at least three hours to overnight.  Drain.
2.  In a heavy pot large enough to hold all the ingredients, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the onion, leek, carrot, and celery.  Saute until just softened, about three minutes.  Add the minced garlic and rosemary and saute for another minute.
3.  Add the 4 cups of chicken stock and 4 cups water, the beans, tomatoes, cabbage and, depending on the saltiness of the stock, add more salt to taste.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook at a simmer, covered, about an hour.
4.  Add potatoes and zucchini.  Simmer covered until the potatoes and zucchini are tender, another 20 to 25 minutes.  Fifteen minutes before the soup is finished, drop in the parmesan rind.
5.  Remove the parmesan rind before serving.

We like the soup made a few days ahead and refrigerated.  Whenever you serve it, add some crusty bread and ENJOY!


  1. as long as its bubbling on your range, i would be happy to share it with you. i think i smell it from here.

  2. Wonderful soup. Love the flageolets and the Parmesan rind additions. We buy a large hunk of Parmesan at Costco and the rind comes with it. Use the rind in soups and the Parmesan disappears quickly. Nothing better than a glass of red wine and a Parmesan shard to accompany it.

  3. just made some myself today but not wit the parmesan rind as its not vegetarian... but all the other ingredients are pretty much the same... great stuff if you ask me!... its the cabbage that truly sets it apart.

  4. That sounds wonderful. I will put it on my list of things to make for our rainy weather. YUM!!!
    Have a beautiful day!

  5. This looks really good, especially on a cold day. I have never heard of using Parmesan rind, I didn't think it was edible. Does it soften when it's cooked? does it taste just like Parmesan?

  6. Ginny: You don't eat the rind. It is simply there for flavoring. However, parmesan rind is edible but not as tasty as the rest.

  7. Oh, that's a beautiful soup. Where on earth did you get those gorgeous beans! I know my regular northerns will do, but I'd love to get these in a minestrone sometime.

  8. I'm always learning something new on your blog--such as the parmesan "rind." It looks so delicious and far better than at the OG.

  9. Some of you are wondering where I got the flageolet. I order dried beans from Rancho Gordo. They have a wide variety and great e-mail service.


  10. look delicious this minestrone, dear!

  11. Yummmmmmm.... Love the Savoy cabbage in this version! Sounds like a delicious comfort food for a chilly day! Thank you, Bonnie! blessings ~ Tanna

  12. A put of soup bubbling away on the stove is so warm and welcoming, isn't it? This sounds delicious.

  13. Bonnie, I agree there is nothing better than a pot of soup simmering on the stove. My favorite meal on a cold rainy night. I love minestrone, but have never made it. Hum....Saturday is suppose to be rainy and somewhat cold... Hugs! Bonnie

  14. We love's been yrs that I have added tomatoes.I think i will again!

  15. I love all of the bean soups, but I don't believe I've ever made minestrone at home. Yours sounds delicious and very comforting.

  16. Sounds great and very good for you! I haven't added the cheese rind yet, but plan too:@)

  17. Soup is a mainstay at my house. I love to make a pot or two on the weekend so there are plenty of lunches and quick weeknight meals. Your minestrone sounds marvelous, and I wish I had a bowl right now on this cold rainy evening- all of my soup is gone! :)

  18. HI Bonnie, I love hearty soups in winter especially and the Minestrone looks fabulous... I could almost SMELL it... ha


  19. wow...this is an outstanding blog! LOVE it!

  20. Love this soup and it gas been so long since I made it; I pinned this one for the future.

  21. This will certainly warm the cockles of my winter weary heart. This is a wonderful soup and it is made better still by that Parmesan rind. I wish I had a bowl of it right now. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  22. Love the idea of using cabbage in it. Never seen that before

  23. I have four bloggers that used to show in my google reader and now they will not. i added them manually in the dashboard part and have to follow them that way. it is really frustrating. one of them i have followed for more than a year, and it just quit showing up.

  24. oh yours sounds and looks much better than what i've had....i think the only minestrone i've ever had came from a can! i'll have to give yours a try!

  25. Looks wonderful! Will make some! Thanks for sharing,Joann

  26. Looks wonderful! And I bet it freezes beautifully. Soups always taste better the second day. Wish I made more....

  27. I have been wanting to place an order with Rancho Gordo and you've given me the push to do it, Bonnie. I will be making your wonderful recipe very soon.

  28. Hum, I missed this one. Looks warm and inviting and we need it here as its cold! I have to say I have never had this kind of soup.. shhhhh.

  29. I love a good bowl of soup any day of the year with crusty bread or cornbread or rolls. Yummo! Tonight I made risotto with parmesan and topped it veges. Delish! Hope your weekend is wonderful. Tammy

  30. Oh my how I wish I had this soup right now boiling on my stove.
    Wow does this make me hungry.
    I was just thinking about how much I would enjoy having warm soup today. lol
    I always leave here wanting to be your neighbor

  31. Thank you so much for the recipe, I will try it out soon. I love soup. Will have to get some parmesan rind, that sounds wonderful...Enjoy your Sunday!

  32. Minstrone is one of those soups I wished I you I'mve tried it in a number of places but just don't care for perhaps I'll try your recipe and make it my own?

  33. With all this snow, we won't be going out tomorrow. I wish I had the ingredients to fix this soup. I'll have to settle for fixing beans with ham. Thanks for checking me out. I couldn't email you because you're a no-reply blogger.

  34. Oh yes, homemade soup is so lovely. Dinner must be fun at your house, Bonnie.



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