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Thick and Hearty Minestrone
The History and Meaning of Minestrone Soup
Obviously this is an Italian dish. Minestrone actually means "big soup". The word originates from Minestra (this is what some Italians call it) which means "to dish up or serve."
In Italy soup is served as a first course. If it's a bigger heartier soup, it can be served as a light meal in the evening. Italians (unlike us Americans) eat soup even in the summer when it's hot outside. They claim that it really makes you feel cooler.
Going back to 30AD this was a Roman soup made up of faro, chickpeas and fava beans with onions, garlic, lard and greens thrown in. Tomatoes and potatoes were added in American in the 16th century. Minestrone is now knows in Italy as "cucina povera" meaning poor kitchen.
Because of its unique origins, minestrone varies across Italy depending on the region of Italy, which is true of so many of Italian dishes. Each region does things a little different. The same can be said of here in the United States. The south has it's way which is different from the north which differs from the south west, etc.
There is no specific recipe for minestrone, except the fact that it's most vegetarian. Except for the fact that I used chicken broth, it is a vegetarian dish. If you don't want the chicken broth you can use vegetable broth. There is protein from the beans and a lot of vitamin C from the tomatoes and the other vegetables have other vitamins.
A nice chunk of Italian bread to dip in the soup also makes it so good. For adults, a nice glass of red wine is also good.
Hope you enjoy this version of Minestrone. Mangiare Buono "Eat Good"!
- You can add rice instead of soup noodles, but add it when the broth and tomatoes and water does in and it cooks for 20 minutes.
- You can also substitute Swiss Chard for Spinach or another green that you like.
- Also other beans may be used like fava beans or navy beans or lima beans or whatever you like.
Photos of Minestrone in stages
No need to add salt because the Chicken broth has salt in it and so does the grating cheese.
But, if you use low salt or unsalted chicken broth then you may want to add salt.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 or 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 (14 1/2oz.) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1/2 lb. Ditalini noodles
- 4 cups fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 (15oz.) can Cannellini beans, undrained
- 1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
- to taste freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- In a 4-quart Dutch oven or soup pot heat oil over medium high heat. Cook and stir the onion, carrot and garlic about 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, water and Italian seasoning.
- Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered about 20 minutes. Add the zucchini, beans, pepper and Ditalini and cook 6 minutes.
- Add the spinach and grating cheese and cook another 5 or 6 minutes or until Ditalini are done the way you like it.