When I make minestrone, I like to literally throw everything I have on hand into the pot. I don’t care what it is, I usually just throw it in anyway. This recipe makes a great use out of those leftovers. Minestrone is basically the Italian version of vegetable soup. Traditionally, you would not throw meat into the mix, but I like to add ham for added flavor. Feel free to skip this step (as well as the substitution of vegetable broth to make a vegetarian version). It’s really great either way. This particular minestrone recipe is winter in a bowl. It has what I like to think of as the best flavors of winter: sweet potatoes, squash, beans, etc. It’s almost like a glorified version of pasta fagioli (Italian ham and bean soup), but maybe that would be taking it a little bit too far ;). Although it is chock full of delicious flavor, it is also very healthy for you. It’s full of vitamins and protein. It’s perfect on a cold, snowy day. Which, by the way, can I tell you how jealous I am of all you guys in the Northeast (and up in the Northern states) getting slammed with snow! Ugh! It’s 60 degrees here today! Oh, Colorado weather. You are so unpredictable. Anyway, I hope all of you have a great weekend. Stay warm out there!
Recipe Fun Facts:
For a vegetarian version:
1. Eliminate the ham. After you have heated up the oil, just throw the veggies straight into the pot, and follow the directions from there.
2. Substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth. This should be a fairly easy substitution.
For a gluten-free version:
1. Eliminate the pasta all together. You don’t even need to substitute it for anything else. This soup is great with or without the pasta.
Beer: 21st Amendment’s Back in Black IPA
Brewed By: 21st Amendment
Style: Black IPA
Description: I wanted a hoppy, yet slightly malty beer for this pairing, and this brew does just that. It is bold and hearty. It is great on a cool evening, and with a hearty bowl of soup. It’s perfectly smooth; and although it is quite bitter, it isn’t out of control, knock you on your feet bitter. It’s a great pairing with the most hearty of dishes.
I just had to. Isn’t he the cutest thing ever!? He brings warmth into my heart <3.
This winter minestrone is perfect for a cold and snowy day. It is warm, healthy and full of hearty veggies.
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup ham, cooked and diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 parsnips, peeled and diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup winter squash, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons herbs de provence
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 15 ounces diced tomatoes, canned
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 cups ditalini pasta, or other small pasta
- 15 ounces cannellini beans, canned, drained and rinsed thoroughly
- 15 ounces red kidney beans, canned, drained and rinsed thoroughly
- 6 ounces fresh kale or baby spinach, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- grated parmesan
- In a large dutch oven (with lid), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the ham and cook for 3-4 minutes or until it just begins to brown. Add the onion, carrots, parsnips, celery, sweet potatoes, winter squash and garlic to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the onions become translucent, about 7-8 minutes.
- Sprinkle the veggies with herbs de provence, and add the tomato paste. Stir to combine and cook until the tomato paste reaches a deep red color, about 3-4 minutes.
- Now, gently stir in the diced tomatoes and chicken broth. Add the bay leaf to the pot, and season again with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 35-40 minutes.
- While the soup is simmering, prepare your pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Remove from heat and drain. Set aside.
- Once your soup has simmered, add the pasta, and both beans to the pot. Stir to combine. Add the fresh kale and the basil and cook until heated through and the kale has wilted.
- Keep warm on the stove until you are ready to serve. Sprinkle with parmesan and enjoy!
Hardware: * Measuring Cups * Measuring Spoons * Sharp Knife * Cutting Board * Large Dutch Oven with Lid * Wooden Spoons * Large Pot (for boiling pasta) * **Note** For a vegetarian option, remove the ham and replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth. **Note** For a gluten-free version, eliminate the pasta all together.