It's A Keeper: Fall Minestrone

As part of my excitement about Fall, I decided to make Rachael Ray's Fall Minestrone. This recipe can be found in 365: No Repeats. I really love any opportunity to use my Le Crueset Pot, too. So, this recipe was an obvious choice.

It is healthy and flavorful all at the same time. The only not-so-good parts are the pancetta and the four tons of cheese that I put on the top of my bowl. Make sure you try this one when you are in the mood for a yummy, healthy, cozy dinner. The chop and drop method also makes it good for a weeknight. Even if there are only two of you, make the whole thing because the leftovers only get better! Here's the recipe with my comments in brackets:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), twice around the pan
1/4 pound pancetta, cut as thick as bacon from the deli counter, chopped [Pancetta only comes thin sliced in my store, but it still turned out just fine.]
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes [I added a whole teaspoon to give it some kick.]
4 garlic cloves
3 portobello mushroom caps, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery ribs, chopped with greens
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 stems of fresh rosemary
8 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 small bunch of kale or chard, trimmed of tough ends and veins and coarsly chopped (4 to 5 cups) [I used swiss chard and it was super tasty.]
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained [also called white kidney beans]
1 14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes or chunky-style crushed tomatoes
1 quart chicken stock or broth
2 cups vegetable stock or broth [They sell it in boxes right near the chicken stock in my store]
A piece of rind of parmigiano cheese- buy a hunk that has a piece of rind attached to it, cut from the outside of the wheel [I usually save the rind and make a minestrone whenever I have one!]
1 cup ditalini pasta [I used the little mini macaroni because they don't sell ditalini at my store]
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to pass at the table
Crusty bread, for mopping [An essential!]

Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat and add the EVOO. Add the pancetta and brown for 2 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, garlic, mushrooms, onions, carrots, and celery. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the mushrooms are lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper and add the rosemary stems and the sage to the pot. [The rosemary will fall off the stem as it cooks.] Add the zucchini and chopped greens and stir them into the pot until all the greens wilt down, 2 to 3 minutes. [See how easy this is? Chop and drop, chop and drop.]

Add the beans, tomatoes, stocks and cheese rind, then place a lid on the pot and bring the soup to a boil. Uncover and add the ditalini pasta. Cook the soup for 7 to 8 minutes at a rolling simmer, uncovered, until the pasta is al dente, with a bite to it. Remove the pot from the heat. Remove the rind and then now bare rosemary stems (the leaves fall off into the soup as it cooks). [See, I told you.] Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and top with grated cheese. [A ton of grated cheese, if you are me.] Pass the crusty bread at the table.


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