Crisp fall days are ideal for a big batch of this satisfying Italian vegetable soup. The flavour improves after a day or two in the fridge and it freezes well too. Tossing some of the vegetables in hot oil beforehand helps retain their colour and texture.
- Serves: 8
- Course: Lunch, Dinner, Snack
- 3 tbsp olive oil (45 ml)
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 large potato, peeled and diced
- 2 small zucchini, diced
- 4 oz diced salt pork, or side bacon (125 g)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 leek, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 6 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or one 28 oz (796 ml) can plum tomatoes, chopped
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (1.5 L)
- bouquet garni
- kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 19 oz (540 ml) can white kidney beans, drained
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (30 ml)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (125 ml)
- Heat 2 tbsp (30 ml) oil in a large frying pan over moderately high heat. Add carrots, celery, potato, zucchini, and a pinch of salt. Toss gently for 2–3 minutes and set aside.
- In a large soup pot, heat remaining oil over medium heat. Add salt pork or bacon and cook until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Cook onion, leek, and garlic in the fat in the pot until soft and lightly browned.
- Stir in tomatoes, sautéed vegetables, pork, stock, herbs, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes.
- Stir in beans and simmer for 15 minutes more. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Serve in hot bowls, garnished with parsley and accompanied with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to sprinkle on top.
- Tip: Soups and stews are often flavoured with a bouquet garni, a small bundle of herbs, usually bay leaf, parsley, and thyme or oregano, tied with string and removed before serving. You can assemble your own or sometimes find them pre-made in the supermarket.
- For a heartier soup, increase the amount of stock by 2 cups (500 ml) and add 1⁄2 cup (125 ml) rice or orzo during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
- - For Vegetarian Minestrone: Omit salt pork or bacon and brown the onions, leeks, and garlic in 2 tbsp (30 ml) butter or olive oil in step 3.