As with most soups and stews, this is better made the day before so that all the flavors from the many ingredients have a chance to marry. In Italy, minestrone can be served at room temperature which makes it perfect for a hearty summer main course along with a chunk of crusty bread. Do as the Italians and drizzle your Minestrone with extra virgin olive oil. I like to guild the lily by also adding cheese, especially when the minestrone is served hot.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots peeled and coarsely chopped
2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
½ small celery root, trimmed and coarsely chopped
2 small cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried
2 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes
3 cups vegetable broth, preferably homemade
½ small bunch of Tuscan kale, center stems removed and coarsely sliced
1 medium size zucchini, coarsely chopped
½ 15-oz can cannellini beans, washed in cold water and drained in sieve
4 ounces (1 cup) small pasta, or broken spaghetti
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup freshly grate Parmigiana cheese, for serving
1. In a large pot, cook the onion, carrots, celery, celery root, garlic and oregano in the olive oil for approximately 10 minutes until vegetables are golden and tender.
2. Stir in broth, tomato paste and chopped tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes.
3. Add kale and cook another 10-15 minutes until wilted and tender.
4. Add cannellini beans and zucchini and stir.
5. Add pasta and stir well. Cook until pasta is tender.
6. If the minestrone is too thick, add water.
7. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
8. Serve in heated soup bowls.
9. Pass the cheese!
Wine recommendation: Chianti Classico, Nero Tavola, Lambrusco or Schiava from Alto Adige