A slow-cooked minestrone made with fresh seasonal ingredients and served with good bread is a healthy and delicious dinner or lunch. The winter version has more potatoes in it, and denser, richer vegetables such as cavolo nero. Its springtime cousin is altogether lighter and fresher.
- 250g/8 oz dried cannellini beans soaked overnight and cooked (see below)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 small tomatoes
- Extravirgin olive oil
- 1 onions
- 2 leeks
- 2 carrots
- 2 sticks celery
- 1/2 savoy cabbage
- 1 or 2 potatoes
- 3 skinned tomatoes (can be canned)
- Other seasonal vegetables (chard, spinach, peas...) a handful of each
- Several sprigs of thyme
- 1 litre/2 pints vegetable stock
- Salt, pepper
- The previous evening, soak the beans in plenty of cold water.
- Change the water and bring slowly to the boil, with the garlic, sage and small tomatoes. Cook slowly for approximately 2 hours, until the beans are tender.
- Discard the garlic and sage, and purée half the beans.
- While the beans are cooking, wash the vegetables well. Cut the carrots into discs or cubes, the tomatoes into large chunks, and the rest into fine cubes or slices.
- Put all the vegetables into a large pot to fry for 5 minutes in a good swirl of olive oil.
- Add the herbs, salt, pepper, the whole and puréed beans and the stock. The quantities should be such as to end up with a thick soup, but remember that the cabbage will release a lot of water.
- Check the seasoning and cook with the lid on for about an hour and a half on a low flame.
- Add the thyme towards the end of the cooking process.
- Dress with plenty of olive oil and black pepper. Soup is often served in Tuscany in a bowl which has toasted farmhouse bread placed in it, rubbed lightly with raw garlic and drizzled with olive oil.
Minestrone is often served in Tuscany in a bowl which has toasted farmhouse bread placed in it, rubbed lightly with raw garlic and drizzled with olive oil.