Beth's End of Summer Minestrone Soup

Photo by J. Kenji López-Alt, who is managing culinary director of Serious Eats magazine and author of its column, The Food Lab.  

Hope you had a happy Labor Day!

I got to celebrate the weekend with two potlucks (one on Friday on Terry's porch and another on Sunday at Miko's) plus a house concert on Saturday with John Bullard thanks to Beth Kelsey and Bud Bennett to benefit the PEO International scholarship fund  (with yet another potluck--and Bud let me know the interview he did with John for RU's Archives and Special Collections are posted here: part one and part two).

Monday night friends' Mike Gangloff and Matt Peyton DJed world beats at Rising Silo at Glade Road Growing, which meant dinner by Tabula Rasa on Glade (a zucchini panino on rosemary focaccia), roasted beets, blistered shishito peppers and a pint of green tea kombucha/ginger beer.)

All this to explain while I'm not posting as usual on Sunday night.  When I was talking to JP on Saturday about the share it was pretty cold and he suggested a soup.  Minestrone came to mind. Or maybe pasta fagioli, although I wasn't as sure of the recipe.  I heard the librarian at the Newman circulation desk tell another patron they'd be open for Labor Day, so, with all the cooking, good food, music and friends, I waited until Monday before going to the farm to walk over to Tech to post this.  I found the doors locked. Maybe I misheard.  Next time I'll look up the schedule!

The one consolation for filing this later than usual is I get to tell you exactly what is in this week's Glade Road Growing bag and tailor the recipe accordingly for: celery, potatoes, carrots, garlic, tomatoes, sweet peppers, and summer squash.  The only additional veggies you need for my version are and onion, greens and basil.  The version pictured uses green beans, in addition.  But as the chef who made it, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt writes:
If all were right in the world, there would be as many recipes for minestrone—the Italian soup of simmered mixed vegetables and beans—as there have been individual pots of it cooked. That's because it's really more of a process than a fixed recipe. It's a hearty, easy, delicious meal that you can make with a couple of pantry staples and whatever fresh vegetables you happen to have on hand.
He has a handy table here on how to prepare most any veggie you might want to add.

Traditional minestrone often has pancetta or bacon (about a quarter pound for this amount of soup.) Although my recipe is for the vegetarian version (for vegan omit the cheese), Ben Wilke of Strong Earth Farm has pork bellies in the Pork Honesty Freezer at Glade Road Growing.  Just chop the pork and add it with the onions. Or smoke it first, to make bacon.  Or cure it in the fridge and hang to dry per Our Daily Brine.  Or Ben suggests that you can bake it in the oven at 325 degrees F for about 40 minutes.

This recipe serves four for a main dish, but if you want to stretch this further, for each additional serving, add one quarter cup of dried beans, 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup of dried pasta and one ounce of cheese, shredded.   If you want more than double the recipe, I'd add additional vegetables.   If you don't have enough fresh tomatoes, you can substitute canned diced tomatoes to supplement. It will keep 4 three days in the fridge.


Serves 4


1 cup of dried beans (cannellini beans are traditional traditional, but you can substitute other white beans such as Great northern or navy beans and I like to combine the white beans with garbanzos and red beans or kidney beans--probably because I grew up eating canned soup.)
3 cups of water

1/4 extra virgin cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 rib of celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 sweet pepper, diced
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped (If there are not enough in the farm share, you can use 6 tablespoons of tomato paste and 1/2 cup of water for each cup you must substitute to make 2 cups.)
4 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and finely chopped
1 or two summer squash, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 pound potatoes, cut into 3/4 inch dice.  If the potatoes or Purple Majesties, you may want to peel them, as they have a thicker skin
1/2 pound greens (kale, chard, arugula, spinach or cabbage or combination) rinsed, drained, stems discarded, and the leaves chopped (about 6 cups)
2 cups of water
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons of miso, thinned with water
1 piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (about 3 by 1 1/2 inches--optional, if you prefer to make this recipe vegan plus 4 ounces of cheese shredded.)
fresh basil to garnish

2 cups dried whole wheat pasta (ditalini--shown--is traditional, but you can use elbow, fusilli, penne, shells, orecchiette or any other small pasta.)


1.  The night before or at least 2 hours before you start the soup, bring beans to boil with 3 cups of water in a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight lid then turn down heat to simmer for 5 minutes.  Drain and rinse well.  Bring back to a boil, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes and then let soak.  Rinse a second time and bring back to boil with a bay leave and cook until soft.

2.  In a cast iron skilled cook onions, until they are softened.   Add the carrots, the celery, the sweet pepper and the garlic and cook the mixture, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the squash and the potatoes and cook the mixture, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the greens cook the mixture, stirring, until they are wilted Add the tomatoes, the water and the cheese rind and simmer the soup, covered, for 1 hour.  Remove the rind and bay leaf.

3.  Drain the white beans, reserving the liquid.  Purée half of them , in a blender or food processor with 1 cup of the reserved liquid, and stir the purée and the remaining white beans into the soup.

4.  Simmer the soup, uncovered, for 15 minutes, thin it if desired with some of the remaining reserve liquid.

5.  While the soup is simmering, put on the pasta to cook according to directions and drain and toss with a bit of olive oil.

6.  Season soup with pepper and miso.   Add pasta if you are serving immediately or if, not, refrigerate pasta and soup in separate lidded jar(s) for up to three days and combine and reheat before serving.

7.  To serve, divide soup into hot soup in individual bowls, garnished chopped fresh basil and shredded cheese.