Vegetable Minestrone

Here's an easy, flavorsome recipe for minestrone. Actually, it's more of a guideline as I'm sure there are as many different minestrones out there as there are families making them. Originally peasant food, minestrone was a way to use up leftovers, so it's infinitely adaptable. Feel free to use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Other nice additions are beans, pasta, piece of parmesan cheese rind, bit of ground turkey.

This week, our High Ground Organics CSA box contained a beautiful bunch of Rainbow chard and some butternut squash, so I threw them into the soup along with a foundation of onions, carrots and celery (also from the CSA). I also had some zucchini in the frig. I just started chopping and kept going until I got about 10 cups worth of chopped raw vegetables (not including the chard leaves).

Notes: You'll need to destem the chard. Easiest way I've found is to hold a single leaf by the stem, upside down. Then, run a chef's knife down each side of the stem to strip the leaf off.

Also, to skim or not to skim, that is the question. Unless I am making a soup that requires a particularly clear broth, I don't bother skimming off  the scum. I find as the soup cooks, you can just stir the "scum" back into the soup and you won't see it any more. You can read more on the debate at cooking.stackexchange and Chowhound.

Vegetable Minestrone
Serves 4-6

In a large stockpot, over medium heat, heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil. Add to stockpot and saute until fragrant:
1 yellow onion, peeled, 1/2" diced

Add and saute until just beginning to soften:
chard stems from one bunch of chard, 1/4" slices
2-3 carrots, peeled, 1/4" diced
1 small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, 1/2" diced

Add a little more oil if the vegetables are starting to stick to the pot.

Then add and saute for another minute or two:
2-3 stalks celery, 1/4" slices
2 zucchini, 1/2" diced

If you're including some ground turkey add it now and cook until it just loses its pink color.

Then, add and saute for a minute:
2-4 garlic cloves, peeled, minced

Season with salt and pepper and dried or fresh herbs of your choosing:
thyme, oregano, rosemary, bay leaf

Pour in and scrape up any brown bits on bottom of pot:
3/4 - 1 cup white wine

After the wine has reduced a bit, add:
2 - 15 oz cans beans, rinsed, drained; 1 can smashed (to thicken soup)
1 - 28 oz can chopped tomatoes
parmesan rind (if using)
8 cups vegetable or chicken stock, or water or combination of

The liquid should just cover the vegetables. If you're adding pasta to the minestrone, increase the total amount of liquids to 10 cups.:

Bring the soup to a boil and add, if using:
1 cup dried pasta 

Bring back up to a boil if necessary, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until pasta is done. Finally, add and cook until tender:
chard leaves from 1 bunch of chard, rolled up like cigars and sliced into 1/4" ribbons

Taste to see if you need additional salt or pepper. I like to add a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten up the flavors. Serve with crusty bread, additional parmesan for grating, and olive oil for drizzling.

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OMG! Yummy said…
Love all of your CSA creations! I adore going to the farmers market, buying lots of great stuff, and then figuring out what to do with it all. Just makes me so much more creative.
Pearl Chow said…
Thanks, Beth! My tendency is to "follow-the-recipe", but compared to desserts and baking, I feel like vegetables provide a lot more room to improvise which I'm learning to love. Thanks for stopping by!

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