Tuesday, May 3, 2011


As Suzie mentioned in her post last night, Dallas was hit with some unseasonably cold and wet weather yesterday. On Saturday I received my recent produce share from Urban Acres Market and included in it was a head of cabbage. While many may immediately see cabbage and think to make cole slaw, my mind always goes to minestrone. Fortunately for me the weather shifted just in time for us to enjoy a hot bowl of soup as a break from the cold, damp air.

Minestrone is Italian for "the big soup" and no set recipe exists. Traditionally, minestrone is a thick soup comprised of what ever vegetables are in season and usually those that are in abundance. Some recipes include only vegetables while others include some protein. In this tradition, the ingredients in my minestrone include many items from my produce share (cabbage, swiss chard, carrots, potatoes and onion).

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4 slices pancetta, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 head of cabbage, chopped
3 swiss chard leaves, stems removed and chopped
1/4 cup packed Italian parsley, chopped
1/4 cup packed basil, chopped
1 sprig rosemary
2 red potatoes, peeled and diced
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes, hand crushed
1 14.5 ounce can cannellini beans
12 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 2 inch rind of parmesan cheese
1 cup elbow macaroni

Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the diced pancetta and cook until it releases its fat.
Add the diced onions and a teaspoon of salt and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Add the diced carrots and celery and saute for about 3 more minutes.
Add the cabbage, chard, basil, parsley and rosemary and cook until the greens begin to wilt, about 7 minutes.
Add the potatoes, stir to coat and then cover. Cook until carrots and potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
Drain the canned tomatoes reserving a 1/2 cup of the liquid. One by one hand crush the tomatoes and add to the pot.
Add the 1/2 cup of tomato juice from the can, stir and cook over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes.
Drain and rinse the canned cannellini beans and add to the pot.
Pour in the 12 cups of low sodium chicken broth.
Add the parmesan cheese rind.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer partly covered for 30 minutes.
Remove the rosemary sprig and add the cup of elbow macaroni.
Simmer for 5 minutes longer, or until the macaroni is al dente. Remove the parmesan rind. Serve with croutons or toasted bread and fresh grated parmesan cheese.

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