I love Sunday afternoons. By this time in the weekend, our schedules have slowed down, and we can all enjoy some time to relax and recharge before the pace picks up again on Monday. You can usually find me in the kitchen on Sunday afternoons cooking something a little more involved than I usually make during the week. In the winter, that often means homemade soup, and minestrone is one of my favorites.
Many people think that minestrone is no more than a glorified vegetable soup. And that’s true in many cases. But this recipe has a greater depth of flavor than most thanks to a few key ingredients: pancetta and parmesan cheese rind. Sauteeing your pancetta with all of the aromatics infuses the base of the soup with a rounder, heartier taste. Steeping the salty parmesan rind in the soup gives it an added richness that you can’t achieve with the typical sprinkle of cheese on top of your bowl.
This recipe is also very forgiving. Want more tomatoes? Throw them in. Are mushrooms your thing? Give it a go. Granted, you may not end up with a textbook minestrone, but that’s not the end goal here. Cooking is just as much about the process of experimenting and finding your own “voice” as a cook as it is about the end product. So take the opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine and some good music while you create and enjoy a homemade meal with your family. It’s my favorite way to end a weekend.
Winter Minestrone Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 3 ounces diced pancetta
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 pound Kale, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped
- 1 russet potato, peeled, cubed
- 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 fresh rosemary sprig
- 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
- 3 (14-ounce) cans low-sodium beef broth, divided
- 1 1/2 ounce piece Parmesan cheese rind
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- Salt and pepper
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add the onion, carrots, celery, pancetta, and garlic to the pot. Saute until the onion is translucent and the pancetta is browned, about 12 minutes.
- Add the kale and potato; saute for 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and rosemary sprig. Bring back to a boil and then reduce the heat. Simmer until the kale is wilted and the tomatoes break down, about 10 minutes.
- While the soup is simmering, add 3/4 cup of the beans and 1/4 cup broth to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Stir the pureed beans, the remaining broth and the Parmesan cheese rind into the pot. Simmer until the potato pieces are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Stir in the whole beans and parsley. Simmer until the beans are heated through and the soup is thick, about 5 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard Parmesan rind and rosemary sprig (the leaves will have fallen off of the stem.)