This recipe is not for 2 servings. When we make minestrone soup, we have it as a main meal, then we use the left over soup as lunches or snacks. Put it in a cup and you can enjoy it while watching a movie (yes, you will still need a spoon).
There are probably as many minestrone recipes as there are Italian grandmas. I would be lying if I said that ours is the best because that would imply that I have tasted all of the others. That being said, I think our minestrone soup is extremely good and would rank well against most of the Italian grandmas.
Minestrone soup is one of those "comfort" meals. It is great on a cold winter's day or for that matter any day!
As with most soups, the key behind the flavour is the broth that is used. We use our homemade chicken broth. It works well in this and a lot of other soup recipes. We also deviate from most recipes in that we use 3 different beans; red kidney beans, white navy beans and garbanzo beans (chickpeas).
Do we always make it the same? No! Substitutions in a minestrone soup is almost a key part of the recipe. In the ingredient section of the recipe we have highlighted some common substitutions in italics.
All vegetables are washed before use.
- 2 tbsp olive oil (any vegetable oil will do)
- 3 oz thick cut pancetta, cut into small pieces (I have substituted 3 strips of smoked bacon)
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced (red, Spanish, white onions along with shallots are good substitutes)
- 2 large carrots, peeled, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 large russet potato, peeled, cubed (yellow flesh potatoes can be substituted)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 14 oz canned red kidney beans, drained, rinsed *
- 8 oz canned, navy beans, drained, rinsed *
- 8 oz canned, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained, rinsed *
- 8 oz canned diced tomatoes with juice (quality)
- 8 oz whole cherry tomatoes, drained (quality) (you can substitute another 8 oz of diced tomatoes)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste (quality)
- 7 cups homemade chicken broth
- 1/2 tbsp of fresh thyme leaves (1/2 tsp dry)
- 6 fresh basil leaves (1/2 tsp dry)
- 5 oz baby spinach, trimmed (kale or Swiss chard can be used instead of spinach)
- 1 cup of short cut cooked pasta
- Salt and pepper to taste
Serve with shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a crusty Italian bread.
* You can substitute dry beans. Make sure you soak them overnight, rinse them thoroughly and cook them separately following the instructions on the package.
- In a large heavy bottom soup pot heat the olive oil on a medium heat.
- Sauté the pancetta until crispy (a couple of minutes). Once the pancetta is crispy remove from the pot and set aside.
- Add the diced onions, carrots and celery and sauté until the vegetables start to cook down and caramelize (about 3 minutes).
- Add the potato and garlic. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. All of the vegetables should have a golden brown colour.
- Add the reserved sautéed pancetta, beans, diced and whole tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth, thyme and basil. Place a lid on the pot, bring to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes or longer.
- Taste the soup and add salt and pepper. Allow the soup to simmer for a couple of minutes, taste again and adjust the seasoning accordingly.
- A few minutes before serving add the cooked pasta and spinach. Cook the soup until the spinach has wilted.