Is It Soup Weather Yet?

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.




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. 

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