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Hearty Winter Minestrone

This hearty winter minestrone is filled to the brim with vegetables, greens, and beans, which makes it a literal meal in a bowl. This is the soup you need to keep warm during the cooler season! {Jump to Recipe}

Hearty Winter Minestrone // FoodNouveau.com

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I don’t think I could go through winter without soup. I live in a city where winters are long, snowy, and extremely cold, and though I’ve become an expert at layering (even when I stay inside all day) and I rely on my trusted heated foot rest to keep me warm at my desk, sometimes the cold goes straight to my bones. The only things that can really help me in those times are bottomless coffees and piping hot bowls of soup.

From quick lentil soup, to cheesy French onion soup, to oh-so-satisfying bowls of ramen, I love ALL soups with my whole heart. Growing up, the soup my mom made most often was minestrone. The minestrone my mom made was rich with veggies, beans, and pasta, which made it super hearty and nutritious. I remember when I was younger, I wasn’t so fond of the beans in the soup, but my love for minestrone grew as I did, and now it’s one of my favorite wintertime bowls of comfort.

I’m not sure my mom knew it back then, but minestrone isn’t a single, specific soup. The name of the soup, minestrone, comes from the Italian term minestra, which means, quite simply, “soup.” In Italian, several terms are used to designate soup: from zuppa, for a simple tomato soup, to minestrone, which is the most substantial type of soup. Minestrone is filled with vegetables and sometimes includes rice or pasta. It is always very thick and stew-like.

There is no set recipe for minestrone. Indeed, minestrone was born out of necessity and was traditionally made out of whatever vegetables were available, with the addition of beans to make it more nutritious. This means you could name any vegetable soup a minestrone and adapt the ingredients you use to follow the seasons. A spring minestrone can be made with fresh peas, leeks, and fennel; a summer minestrone could include green beans, zucchini, and fresh tomatoes and could be served, perhaps, with a spoonful of homemade pesto on top; and a fall minestrone would for sure feature squash.

Winter minestrone is the heartiest variety of minestrone. Filled with vegetables that traditionally keep through the winter, such as onion, carrots, and potatoes, and enriched with bitter greens and beans, winter minestrone is a literal meal in a bowl. My recipe for winter minestrone is inspired by the soup my mom used to make, with the addition of a few clever flavor boosters, such as pancetta and parmesan rind.

Speaking of parmesan rind! If you buy wedges of Parmigiano-Reggiano, never ever throw away the rinds. Once you’ve used all the cheese, collect the rinds in a resealable plastic bag or an airtight container in the freezer to use later. A single piece of rind adds a ton of flavor and depth to minestrone. It’s a great way to upgrade store-bought beef, chicken, or vegetable broth!

Helpful Tips for Making Winter Minestrone

Hearty Winter Minestrone // FoodNouveau.com

Can I freeze winter minestrone?

Winter minestrone is a soup you can and should make ahead of time. The flavors of this hearty soup fully develop after an overnight rest. So go on and make a double-batch: you can then freeze winter minestrone in portions and enjoy it for icy weeks or months to come.

Can I add other types of vegetables in winter minestrone?

Absolutely! Do as the Italians would and use whatever you have on hand. Frozen green peas, green beans, squash, and even broccoli or cauliflower florets would all make fine additions to winter minestrone.

Can I use dried beans instead of canned beans in winter minestrone?

Of course, you can! Simply soak 1/2 cup (125 ml) dry beans of your choice overnight, then add them to a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer the beans until tender, 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the variety. Drain and add to the winter minestrone when the recipe says to add in the canned beans.

How can I make a vegan winter minestrone?

Easy peasy! Simply omit the pancetta and parmesan from the recipe, and make sure to use vegetable broth. Serve vegan winter minestrone sprinkled with nutritional yeast for a lovely boost in flavor.

 

 

Winter Minestrone

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 8 servings

This hearty winter minestrone is filled with vegetables, greens, and beans, which makes it a literal meal in a bowl. This is the soup you need to keep warm during the cooler season!

Ingredients

To serve (optional)

Instructions

In a large pot set over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the pancetta and fry until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate. Add the onion, celery, and carrot to the pot and cook, stirring from time to time, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and bay leaves and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add the beef stock, water, diced tomatoes, beans, potato, Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, salt, oregano, thyme, and some black pepper. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the greens and dry pasta and keep cooking for 15 minutes.

SERVING: Fish out the Parmigiano-Reggiano rind out of the soup. To make winter minestrone truly special, garnish each serving with a drizzle of olive oil, a dusting of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a few leaves of Italian parsley. Serve with crusty bread.

STORAGE: Divide the winter minestrone between airtight containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.

NOTES:

  • If you buy wedges of Parmigiano-Reggiano, never throw away the rinds! Once you’ve used all the cheese, collect the rinds in a resealable plastic bag or an airtight container in the freezer to use later. A single piece of rind adds a ton of flavor and depth to Italian wedding soup. If you don’t have saved rinds but have a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano on hand, you can simply cut off the rind to add it to the soup. If you don’t have either, you can simply omit it from the recipe.
  • To make vegan winter minestrone, omit the pancetta and parmesan from the recipe, and make sure to use vegetable broth. Serve vegan winter minestrone sprinkled with nutritional yeast for a lovely boost in flavor.

Cuisine Italian

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What do you think of this recipe? Got any questions? Let's chat!
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10 Responses to Hearty Winter Minestrone

  1. Wow. That looks so wonderfully rich and hearty. I would so want a bowl of that on a cold winters day! Love the addition of pancetta in this.

    • I think using bacon would be delicious as well (can be easier to find than pancetta), but I LOVE pancetta and I’m always happy to find a new way to use it. It’s truly delicious in this soup.

    • I had never used dried black-eyed peas before and I’m really happy I used them in this soup! I’m always a bit weary of using dried beans because I see them as being a bit fussy (overnight soaking and all) but the fact that those could just be thrown into the soup really won me over!

  2. oh yes, freezing homemade yummies is a trick my mom taught me. it means you eat well, and that’s worth a lot. my recent favorite freezing item is ravioli. it’s kind of fun to make them on a weekend morning and to freeze them for later. we use wonton wrappers to just save a lot of time. and it’s great because you can go asian or classic italian/california on the stuffings.

    • I LOVE to make dumplings or raviolis! My favorite are pot stickers – the kind you brown in you pan before adding some broth to steam the insides. I always have a big bag of those, they make the perfect last minute snack!

  3. Your minestrone looks so delicious and comforting. I am saving the recipe. Also, thank you for all the freezing tips. Your Wallcast project looks truly amazing. I will have to try it. Thanks for sharing it.

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