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Chef Renée’s Minestrone Soup

Chef Renée shares her recipe for minestrone soup, the one-pot way to say I’m thinking of you.

Minestrone soup

image courtesy of AGO

By Renée Bellefeuille, AGO Executive Chef
 

Greetings from my home kitchen. Like you, I’m trying to find ways to support my neighbours and capitalize on all the wonderful local produce now available. So this week I’m batch-cooking, preparing meals for the freezer and for friends. (It freezes marvelously, and using recyclable foil baking pans is a safe bet, so you don’t have to worry about getting dishes back.)

Minestrone soup is an ideal choice – not only is it a one-pot masterpiece, but it’s an incredibly comforting, nourishing soup that can be made with whatever vegetables you have on hand

Italian in origin, recipes vary widely from region to region, depending on local ingredients.   This recipe works best with dried beans but you can substitute canned beans and broth. 

P.S.: Cooked dried beans are an excellent source of fibre, potassium and folate. If you are using dried beans, be sure to reserve the liquid – it’s the traditional base for yummy Roman bean soup. 

Minestrone 

Servings: 68

Prep time: overnight plus 2.5 hours 

Cooking time: 2.5 hours

Beans for Minestrone Soup
Minestrone Soup 1
Soaking the beans for Minestrone Soup
Minestrone Soup 2
Soup ingredients diced
Minestrone Soup 3
Ingredients
Minestrone Soup 4
Stir ingredients
Minestrone Soup 5
Simmer soup
Minestrone Soup 6
Minestrone soup

image courtesy of AGO

Minestrone Soup 7

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups dried beans (pinto, borlotti or cannellini beans work best)
  • 4 medium-sized onions
  • 4 medium-sized carrots
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 large red pepper 
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 2 yellow-fleshed potatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup finely diced tomatoes 
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram (can substitute dried oregano)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

The night before, in a very large bowl, add dried beans to 6 cups of water. Store overnight in the fridge.  The beans will swell. 

Next morning, drain beans and rinse. Pour beans into a large pot and cover with 5 cups of water. To this, add one onion (cut in half), two bay leaves and a smashed clove of garlic. Do not salt the beans, as this will inhibit them from softening.

Bring beans to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until soft, checking regularly with a fork. This can take anywhere from 45 to 120 minutes.  

While beans cook, dice all remaining vegetables. Set aside zucchini and potatoes. 

Once beans are soft, season with 1 tsp. of salt and then strain into a bowl, reserving liquid.  Set aside. 

Return the pot to the stove. Turn heat to medium and add the olive oil. Into the pot, add onions, celery, red pepper and carrots and marjoram. Stir frequently and cook for 10-15 until vegetables are slightly browned. Then add finely diced tomatoes, potatoes and zucchini. 

Add in the beans and most of the cooking liquid (notice that there is sediment in the bottom of the bowl – try to avoid pouring that sediment into the pot of soup). There should be enough cooking liquid to more than cover the soup. If too dry, add a little bit of water or vegetable broth.

Cover soup and simmer for 20 minutes, until potatoes and zucchini are soft. 

Season with salt and pepper and a splash of white wine vinegar. 

To Serve:

Ladle soup into bowls or foil pans. Serve with toasted hunks of crusty bread and/or fresh parsley. 

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