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Minestrone knows no season.

In Italy, minestrone comes in countless variations, which can be eaten cool in the summer and hot in the winter. The base of this popular vegetable soup is usually a bean-thickened broth; these short-cut versions used canned beans to minimize cooking time. for a one-pot meal, add fresh vegetables and pasta, rice, or barley.

All these soups taste good hot, cool, and in between. Accompany with a Soave, Gavi, Orvieto, or dry Sauvignon Blanc.

Minestrone Genovese

2 large (about 1 1/4 lb. total) leeks 3 quarts regular-strength chicken broth 2 large (about 1/2 lb. total) carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks 3 large stalks (about 1/2 lb. total) celery, sliced thin 2 cans (15 oz. each) cannellini (white kidney beans), drained 2 cups (4 oz.) dry elbow macaroni 1 pound (about 4 large) yellow crookneck squash or yellow zucchini, ends trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch chunks 1 large (about 1/2 lb.) red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces 1 package (1 lb.) frozen petite peas Pesto (recipe follows) Salt and pepper

Trim root ends and green tops off leeks. Split leeks in half lengthwise and rinse thoroughly. Thinly slice leeks crosswise. In an 8- to 10-quart pan, combine leeks, broth, carrots, and celery; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add beans, macaroni, squash, and bell pepper; cover and simmer until macaroni is just tender to bite, about 10 minutes. Add peas; bring to a boil. Stir 1/2 cup of pesto into soup. Serve hot or cold. (If made ahead, cool, cover, and chill up until next day. Warm to room temperature or reheat.) Offer remaining pesto, salt, and pepper to add to taste. Serves 10 to 12.

Per serving: 220 cal.; 12 g protein; 6.3 g fat (1.6 g sat.); 30 g carbo.; 270 mg sodium; 3.2 mg chol.

Pesto. In a food processor or blender, puree 2 cups (about 2 oz.) lightly packed fresh basil leaves, 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons pine nuts or slivered almonds, and 1 to 2 cloves garlic. Add salt to taste. If made ahead, cover and chill up until next day. Warm to room temperature to use. Makes 1 cup.

Per tablespoon: 69 cal.; 3.1 g protein; 5.9 g fat (1.7 g sat.); 1.8 g carbo.; 114 mg sodium; 4.8 mg chol.

Minestrone with Chard and Rosemary

1 pound (about 5 large) Roma-type tomatoes 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 large onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed 2 stalks (about 6 oz. total) celerly, diced 2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto or cooked ham, cut into thin shreds 3 quarts regular-strength beef broth 2 large (about 1/2 lb. total) carrots, peeled and diced 1 tablespoon minced fresh or 1 teaspoon dry rosemary leaves 2/3 cup medium-grain white rice 1 pound Swiss chard, ends trimmed 3 cans (15 oz. each) pinto beans, drained 1/2 pound green beans, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch lengths 1 pound (about 3 large) zucchini, ends trimmed, cut into 3/4-inch chunks Freshly grated parmesan cheese Salt and pepper

In an 8- to 10-quart pan, bring about 1 quart of water to a boil. Drop in tomatoes and cook about 1 minute. Drain tomatoes and peel off skin. Core and chop tomatoes; set aside. Discard water in pan.

In the pan stir oil, onion, garlic, celery, and prosciutto over medium-high heat until onion is limp, about 8 minutes. Add broth, carrots, rosemary, and rice. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Cut swiss chard crosswise into 1/4-inch strips. Mash 1 can pinto beans. Add mashed and whole pinto beans, green beans, tomato, and zucchini to pan. Cover and simmer 5 minutes longer. Stir in chard; simmer, uncovered, until zucchini is tender to bite, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Serve hot or cool. (If made ahead, cool, cover, and chill up until next day; warm to room temperature or reheat.) Offer parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper to add to taste. Serves 10 to 12.

Per serving: 175 cal.; 8.9 g protein; 3.5 g fat (0.5 g sat.); 28 g carbo.; 347 mg sodium; 2.8 mg chol.

Minestrone with Escarole

2 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced 1 large (about 1/2 lb.) onion, chopped 2 quarts regular-strength chicken broth 1/2 pound (about 1 large) russet potato, peeled, and diced 3/4 cup pearl barley, sorted of debris and rinsed 2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 1 tablespoon dry mint leaves 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano leaves 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed dry hot red chillies 2 cans (15 oz. each) garbanzos, drained 1 1/2 pounds (about 8 large) Roma-type tomatoes, cored and diced 1 pound escarole, ends trimmed, rinsed and cut into 3-inch slivers Freshly grated parmesan cheese Salt and pepper

In a 5- to 6-quart pan over medium-high heat, mix pancetta with oil (omit oil if using bacon); stir frequently until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and onion; stir until onion is limp, about 5 minutes. Drain off fat.

Add broth, potato, barley, mint, oregano, and chilies. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until barley is tender to bite, about 30 minutes. Add garbanzos and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Stir in escarole; cook just until wilted, about 1 minute. Serve hot or cool. (if made ahead, cool, cover, and chill up until next day. Warm to room temperature or reheat.) Offer cheese, salt, and pepper to add to taste. Serves 6 to 8.

Per serving: 235 cal.; 11 g protein; 4.7 g fat (4.7 g sat.); 39 g carbo.; 224 mg sodium; 1.7 mg chol.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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