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Food For the Soul – A Warming Winter Soup

February 2, 2011

There’s nothing like a piping hot bowl of soup on a snowy winter day.  A pot of this Minestrone will perfume your home and entice the brave sledders and snowman makers in from the bitter cold.

Italian Minestrone Soup

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 oz. pancetta or 2 slices of bacon, chopped (optional)

Heat over medium heat in a large soup pot until the pancetta or bacon has released its fat, 2 to 3 minutes.

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium celery stalks with leaves, minced
  • 1 4-inch sprig fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • ¼ cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup tightly packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ small head green cabbage
  • 3 swiss chard leaves washed, dried and chopped
  • 1 14-oz can whole tomatoes, drained and broken into pieces
  • 1 16-oz can borlotti or pinto beans, rinsed and drained, half of them mashed
  • 10 cups chicken stock, or water

Add all ingredients above except last three and cook, stirring, until the greens are beginning to wilt, 5 to 10 minutes.  Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes.  Cook, stirring, over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.

Stir in beans and stock.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.  Remove the rosemary sprig, if used.  Stir in 4 oz penne pasta.  Continue to simmer for 15 minutes.  Ladle into warmed bowls and drizzle extra virgin olive oil and garlic over each serving.  Sprinkle with ground black pepper and freshly grated parmesan cheese to taste over servings.

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