My baby son has had a cold all weekend. In an effort to get some nutrients in him, I pulled out of the cupboard a pouch of pre-made baby minestrone soup. It was pretty bland and I didn't have high hopes, but Jack ate the entire thingie of it in a matter of minutes.
It wasn't good and I figured I could easily make something one hundred times tastier.
And I did.
I wanted an authentic minestrone so I turned to legendary Italian cookbook author Marcella Hazan. In her book, "More Classic Italian Cooking," she has a recipe for Minestrone alla Novarese. She calls it "spectacularly hearty," and she doesn't let you down. It's a bit different from a typical minestrone, but that's what I wanted. The ingredients were easy to find and the soup is simple and delicious.
And minestrone always tastes better reheated the next day. I am sure it will be a hit with Jack.
I made some very slight changes, but the red cabbage adds so much depth of flavor, like none I've ever tasted. I was surprised how little tomatoes the recipe called for, but I trust Ms. Hazan through and through.
Serve this with some hearty artisan bread and a glass of red wine.
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbs. butter
2 slices of bacon, cut into little bits
1 onion, sliced very thin
1 medium carrot, diced
1 celery rib, diced (use the leaves)
2 zucchini, diced
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 can cannellini beans, partially drained
1/3 cup canned Italian tomatoes, chopped with their juice (I accidentally bought pre chopped kind, so I eyeballed it)
salt and pepper
1.5 cups chicken broth
Add the oil, butter, bacon, and onion to a soup pot and turn heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden -- about 20 minutes.
Add all of the diced veggies and the cabbage and thoroughly coat in the oil and fat. Mmmm...fat is good. Stir around for a minute or two.
Add the tomatoes with their juice, a tiny bit of salt, and lots of freshly ground pepper. Add the broth and as much water as needed to cover the veggies by one inch.
Cover and simmer on very low for at least two hours. Skim off some of the excess fat with a spoon. Add the beans with some of their liquid 15 minutes before serving.
Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese when served.
If you like noodles in your minestrone, I'd add the dry noodles toward the end and serve right when the noodles are al dente.