Minestrone – Classic Italian Vegetable Soup
Minestrone is the most popular soup born in Italy. It is so associated with first courses that outside the republic, saying “Italian soup”, of course, mean minestrone. Its basis is broth, vegetables and legumes.
Italians cook it with seasonal products, but, nevertheless, it is allowed to use frozen peas or beans. Healthy ingredients are a very significant plus of dishes. Minestrone is not just soup. It is a symbol of Italian nutritional principles. Do you want to know how it appeared and how to cook a classic minestrone in your kitchen?
Origin and variants Minestrone has a very ancient origin. Back in the Roman Empire, vegetable soup was prepared on the basis of onions, garlic, carrots, asparagus, lentils and mushrooms. Additional ingredients have been added over the centuries thanks to new advances. For example, potatoes and tomatoes became part of the dish when they “arrived” in Italy after the discovery of America in the 16th century. Initially, the minestrone was a modest soup, which was prepared mainly from the remnants of second courses or from the cheapest vegetables. It was everyday food, not an option for a wedding or festive table. The current lack of a strict soup recipe is explained by the fact that products for it were never prepared in advance.
In other words, if a person bought chicken in order to then fry and eat it, then the minestrone acted differently. The components that were in the house were used. Between the XVII and XVIII centuries, Italian chefs glorified the first dish outside the republic. But even today, soup is perceived as a tribute to the peasant tradition. Its name literally translates as “what is served” (as a meal). The first application of the term “Minestrone” to vegetable soup dates from the 18th-19th centuries. The recipe depends on the region of preparation. Minestrone classic (Minestrone classico) is rather a relative concept, since there is no consensus among the culinary experts on its composition.
But the main components are strictly regulated: broth, beans, onions, celery, carrots and tomatoes. Although conservatives advocate the absence of “non-European” vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes) in the dish. Some prefer to cook minestrone on water, others choose meat broths. Someone supplements it with pasta, someone prefers rice. Its consistency ranges from thick and dense (close to stew) to very thin.
For example, the classic version contains more broth than the Minestrone in Genoese (Minestrone alla genovese). The composition of the latter also includes Pesto sauce. In fact, recently the word minestrone has become synonymous with the phrase “mix everything.” But, of course, modern cooks do not use leftover food from previous meals, but pre-acquire fresh vegetables, planning to make soup. Today, it is not eaten as a main course, but as a light first, opening a hearty meal.
Classic recipe. The classic minestrone recipe is present in every region of Italy. But there are no significant differences. Only a few ingredients change. We suggest you cook the most popular winter version of the dish in the republic. Given the characteristics of our climate, domestic housewives are better off creating their delicacy in the second half of summer.
So, we will need: Water – 700 ml; Cauliflower – 400 g; Tomatoes – 350 g; Potato – 330 g; Pumpkin – 250 g; Fresh beans – 200 g; Fresh or frozen green peas – 200 g; Leek – 150 g; Smoked pancetta – 110 g; Zucchini – 100 g; Onion – 80 g; Carrots – 80 g; Celery – 60 g; Olive oil – 60 g; Rosemary – 6 g; Parsley – 5 g; Ground black pepper – 2 g; Garlic – 1 clove; Bay leaf – 2 pcs.; Salt and nutmeg to taste. Before starting the process, wash and dry all the vegetables. Rosemary and a sprig of laurel – tightly knit with kitchen thread so that during cooking the leaves of herbs do not appear in the soup How to cook First, peel the pumpkin from the peel, remove the seeds and fibrous pulp with a spoon.
Dice pumpkin and zucchini. If fresh beans are in pods, then we extract beans from them. Cauliflower is divided into inflorescences. We cut the white part of the leek into thin rings, and the pancetta into cubes. We also turn the peeled potatoes and tomatoes with the peel and stem removed into cubes. Peel carrots, celery and onions, cut as small as possible, parsley – large. Now all the ingredients are prepared, and you can proceed to the main stage.
In a pan with non-stick coating and high sides, fry in olive oil carrots, onions and celery for 7-8 minutes. Avoid burning vegetables to the bottom of the tank. Add crushed garlic and pancetta without turning off the heat. The latter serves to flavor the soup. We also put in a pan a bunch of herbs. The leek rings, together with a small amount of water (about 50 ml), are mixed with the resulting mass and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes.