Tomatoes, Olives & Bread for Minestrone Night


Italian: Nessuno conosce che cosa sta cucinando nella vaschetta meglio di chi fa la mescolatura.
English: No one knows what is cooking in the pan better than the one doing the stirring.

And maybe a little prosciutto, rosemary, and olive oil…spring always brings a ton of work that the elderly body can’t keep up with and today was no exception, well maybe one exception as the temperature here in NC is expected to drop considerably and bring in more rain and so the elderly can avoid the work altogether!  It always comes and goes, spring does…

So what the heck, I won’t be wearing my sandals, spring garb, and having dinner on the porch tonight, but the generous wooly socks that I have all but worn out that will serve to warm me up as I hear a confusing mix of thunder, Marine Corps practice bombing and I head to the fireplace for yet another night…

I doctored up the last focaccia recipe that I posted simply decorated it with pitted oil-cured olives, halved cherry tomatoes and allowed it to rise for 1 hour, and baked at 350º for 25-30 minutes.


Now my fridge is full of spring type vegetables like asparagus and fresh peas among other things so the logical thing for me to do is make a big pot of minestrone for a chilly weekend and my recipe takes longer to chop up everything than it takes in actual cooking time, but if you have access to prepped vegetables in the market, feel free to use them.

For the soup – serves 8 and easily halved

1 parmesan cheese rind I save mine and freeze them, but I did notice that some stores are carrying them in their cheese cases
4-5 tablespoons of EVOO
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cleaned and sliced leeks white and light green parts only – cut in half first
1 large Vidalia onion, halved, quarter, and sliced thin
3 cloves of peeled and smashed fresh garlic cloves, use roasted if you have some
4 small ribs of celery, diced
2 medium zucchini quartered and medium diced
12 small yellow potatoes halved, quartered, and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
6 ounces of French green beans, into one-inch pieces
4 medium carrots, peeled, quartered, and large diced
6-8 asparagus spears, trimmed of tough ends and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
1+1/2 cup frozen baby peas *I had fresh
2 large Roma tomatoes, large dice
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons spicy Amore tomato paste
fresh parsley, oregano, basil, and thyme leaves torn…
pinches of red pepper flakes
2/3 cup of navy beans, quick soaked method and simmered until almost done…lazy? Sub drained canned beans, cannellini, or whatever you like
1 cup or more of uncooked tubettti pasta…I’ve also used orzo, farro, and fregola for the grains.

Keep in mind that you can add other veggies like kale and spinach as well as cooked barley really which sets this pot of soup up for a hearty winter dinner.


Add the oil and butter to a large soup pot add the onions, garlic cloves and sauté over medium heat for a few minutes to soften, add the vegetables one at a time and sauté into the previous additions for around 3 minutes after each addition.  Add the fresh herbs, red pepper flakes, and cheese rind, and all of the broth, tomato paste, and tomatoes, simmer for 1 hour to finish cooking the beans.  If serving the entire pot of soup you can add the pasta and cook for another 15 minutes, adding more broth if the soup is too thick.  Most of the time I count on leftovers so I don’t add the pasta to the entire pot, but precook some pasta and add it to individual servings…I just don’t like how blown up the pasta gets sitting in the soup, but that is just me…the soup freezes well without the pasta.

I love my minestrone with the addition of EVOO from the olive oil store, freshly grated cheese, and a few more red pepper flakes.  Serve with focaccia and thin slices of prosciutto…

Have a great weekend everyone!  My annual Easter pizza project is this weekend, so it will be nice with a cup of soup!