When I think of cold weather and soul-satisfying food, my go-to recipe is this classic Italian minestrone soup. My love affair with minestrone began several years ago on a chilly and foggy winter night at Arrivederci Ristorante in Hillcrest. In this Chowhound’s humble opinion, Arrivederci arguably has the best minestrone around. In my quest to replicate this hearty soup, I found a recipe that is just as satisfying, if not better in a different way.
Some tips for making this soup: stock up on the ingredients and have everything handy; chop all the veggies in small, evenly cubed dice for an even consistency and beautiful presentation; and the most important tip… the pesto and Parmesan cheese rind are key to the depth of flavor. I usually cut off the rind of my Parmesan block and store it in the freezer until I’m ready to make this soup. And sometimes, I double this recipe and freeze the extra for the rare day that a rainy, soup-weather kind of day strikes in San Diego. Enjoy!
Clairemont Chowhound Italian Minestrone Soup
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 ounce of pancetta, diced
1 ½ cups of green cabbage, chopped
1 cup of onions, diced
1 cup of carrots, diced
¼ cup of celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup of diced, drained, canned plum tomatoes
(NOTE: I also rinse the tomatoes quickly to ensure a clear broth)
2 quarts of chicken broth (low sodium!)
½ cup peeled, diced potato
1 ounce Parmesan cheese rind
3 ounces dry vermicelli or angel hair pasta, broken into small pieces
¼ cup drained, canned chickpeas
1/3 cup drained, canned kidney beans
1/3 cup Pesto
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Heat the oil a large soup pot over medium heat. Cook the pancetta until the fat melts (3-5 minutes). Be careful not to brown the meat.
2. Add the chopped cabbage, onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook 6-8 minutes. Add the drained tomatoes and sauté another 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the broth, diced potato, and Parmesan cheese rind. Bring to a simmer and cook 30 minutes.
4. When the vegetables are tender, add the pasta, chickpeas, kidney beans and cook another 8-10 minutes until the pasta is tender.
5. Remove the Parmesan rind and season with pesto, salt and pepper. Top with grated Parmesan.
ABOUT CLAIREMONT’S CHOWHOUND
Clairemont Chowhound Michael Baehr is a home cook and self-proclaimed foodie. He loves sampling new eateries and welcomes your suggestions for local restaurants, fast food and specialty markets to review. Email: ClairemontChowhound@ClairemontTimes.com