ZUPPA Di MINESTRONE Recipe
Ingredients:1/4 lb. pancetta or salt pork, sliced 1/4 inch thick and diced
1 Lb. beef or stew meat cut bite size
A cup of flour
Large can 28-oz of diced tomatoes
An end rind of Regianno Parmeggiano skin* (3 x 3 x 1/4 inch)
* This should be available in any Italian market and probably for free
1-2 cans of cannellini (white kidney ) beans or whatever chick pea, etc. If fresh, soak accordingly.
1/2 cup of good olive oil
2 onion, chopped coarsely chopped
2-4 large carrots, diced
2-3 ribs of celery including leaves, diced
3-4 fresh garlic cloves, chopped
2 zucchini, diced
1/4 to 1/2 lb. fresh green beans, cut in bite size pieces
1/2 lb. red bliss or new white small potatoes, diced with skin on
1-2 cups of beef stock
1 doz. fresh basil leaves & 1 Doz. springs of parsley.
2 large bay leaves crushed
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
A handful of freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving
1/2 Lb. of pasta of your choice; Any type of small pasta like Ditalini or any mixture will do. My mother would use anything she had leftover or just break up some spaghetti or linguini. Cook the pasta until very al dente, strain and cool down. "DO NOT over cook! ‘No not rinse" but one quick shot under cold to remove some of the starch and to retard any further cooking will be fine.
Directions:Dredge meat in flour shaking off excess and set aside. In a large heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven on med./ high heat, add the oil, pancetta, beef and onion. Cook until meat is browned on all sides. Add 1/2 the beef stock, a cup of water, bay leaves and simmer covered for about 30 minutes or so. Add the potatoes, carrots and celery. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to med. or med. / low until the potatoes can be broken easily but still al dente. Add the tomatoes, the cheese rind, green beans, cannellini beans ( crushing a few on the side of the pan ) , zucchini S&P to taste, stir well and bring up to a low boil then back down to a simmer ( covered ) for another 30 - 45 minutes. When you add the canned cannellini beans include any juice; if using dried, strain. Add the garlic, basil, parsley and additional beef stock if you think you should, recover for another 20-30 minutes or so. Time to check the meat; if it melts in your mouth, it's done. S&P to taste and remove from heat covered.
Directions for dried beans: Soak beans overnight, then drain. Re-cover beans with water, by 2 inches, S&P to taste then simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered.
When adding the pasta, only add pasta to the amount of Minestrone you will be serving at that sitting. If you add it to the entire pan and are going to eat some as leftovers, the pasta will turn to mush. The pasta will keep very well in a plastic for the next day or so, so add it when you eat it.
IF I WERE TO PICK A UNIVERSAL ITALIAN SOUP IT WOULD LIKELY BE MINESTRONE; THE ONLY THING CLOSE WOULD BE PASTA E FAGIOLI, BEAN SOUP WITH PASTA. MINESTRONE SOUP SO ADAPTED TO REGIONAL TASTES IN ITALY, THERE ARE AS MANY DIFFERENT WAYS IT AS THERE ARE REGIONS. THE TUSCANS USE A LOT OF BEANS IN THEIR MINESTRONE AS THEY DO WITH MANY OF THEIR SOUPS; TUSCANY IS WELL KNOWN FOR BREAD SOUPS. IN THE LIGURIAN REGION WHERE THEY ARE KNOWN FOR BASIL, THEY MAKE MINESTRONE AL PESTO, PILED WITH BASIL ALONG WITH FRESH TOMATOES AS WELL AS THE BASIC INGREDIENTS. THE LOMBARD MINESTRONE IS LOADED WITH SQUASH. SOME AREAS LIKE TO ADD SHREDDED SALT PORK OR CHUNK SIZE BITES OF BEEF, AS I DO. AND THE MILANESE MINESTRONE IS PRETTY MUCH THE TRADITIONAL, AS WE KNOW IT HERE IN THE STATES. THIS IS A BASIC RECIPE BUT IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO YOUR TASTES; "IT'S YOUR SOUP", THROW IN WHATEVER YOU WANT.
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