Every time I make minestrone, I stop and think how amazing it is that such a humble dish became so popular outside of Italy. The main idea behind minestrone is the same as a quiche: It’s a recipe designed to rid the fridge of all the vegetable scraps that have been sitting for too long and are starting to look sad and wilted. Feel free to throw whatever vegetables you have on hand into your minestrone—this version, enriched with herbs and Tuscan farro, makes for a wonderful fall minestrone soup. Reprinted from Naturally Vegetarian by Valentina Solfrini, by arrangement of Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group USA. A Penguin Random House Company, © 2017.
- ½ cup dried borlotti beans (or any other kind you like), soaked overnight, or 1 cup canned beans
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 garlic clove, crushed and peeled
- 1 small sprig of rosemary, fresh or dried, ﬁnely chopped
- 3 sage leaves, preferably fresh, ﬁnely chopped
- 2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
- 1 large onion, ﬁnely chopped
- 3 medium carrots, scrubbed and diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- ½ cup whole farro, soaked overnight
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- ½ celeriac bulb, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 1 large pumpkin wedge, cut into small cubes
- 1 bunch of Swiss chard or Tuscan kale, finely chopped
- 1½ teaspoons coarse sea salt, or a scant tablespoon ﬁne sea salt
- Vegetable stock or water, enough to cover all ingredients by 2 inches
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Crusty bread slices, preferably whole-wheat or Pugliese
If you are using fresh borlotti, place them to a pot with plenty of water, bring them to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for about 30 minutes before adding them to the. If you are using canned beans, skip this step.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic, rosemary, sage, and bay leaves, and cook for about 2 minutes; the mixture should smell very aromatic.
Add the onion, carrots, and celery and stir well. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onion turns translucent.
If you are using fresh borlotti, add the precooked beans to the pot. If you are using canned beans, rinse them well and add them to the pot.
Drain the farro of its soaking liquid and add the farro to the pot. Stir for 1 minute, then add the tomato sauce and stir for 1 minute more. Add enough water to cover the ingredients, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
Add the celeriac, pumpkin, Swiss chard, and enough stock to cover all of the ingredients by 2 inches (5 cm). Let the soup cook, half-covered, until the beans are cooked, about 1 hour. Add the salt at the end and adjust the seasoning to taste. Remove the bay leaf.
Serve in bowls and finish with extra-virgin olive oil and a piece of crusty bruschetta. This soup tastes even better the next day!
VARIATION: You can use any other bean you like: cannellini, red beans, or black beans are great. You can also change the vegetables according to season: peas, green beans, or zucchini make especially good minestrone—just make sure they are vegetables with some bite. In the summer, try omitting the sage and use finely chopped basil instead, adding it either at the end of the cooking process or along with all the vegetables.
You can play around with the grains, too: Try small pasta or barley instead of the farro. Use brown rice for a gluten-free alternative.
- See more warming Fall Harvest Soups.