• 1/4 to 1/2 head of cabbage, remove root and chop coarsely
  • 1/2 cup of good olive oil
  • A piece of Regianno Parmeggiano skin* or end piece (3 x 3 x 1/4 inch)
  • - This should be available in any Italian market and probably for free
  • A left over ham bone with some meat on it or a 1/2 to 1 inch of slice of cooked ham (2nd choice / last resort)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cans cannellini beans, un-drained
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, halved
  • 2-3 cups of chicken stock
  • 4-6 1 inch slices of stale Italian bread grilled or browned on both sides under the broiler
  • small handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 bay leafs
  • Battuto (make ahead)
  • Battuto is a combination of spices, veggies with a meat base, usually pork, that is sautéed until translucent but still al dente. Do not add the garlic until almost done then set aside in a small bowl with juices. This mixture is used as the basis of many classical Italian soups and sauces. If the cooking is a long process, it is wise to add the battuto toward the end of cooking. If not, you will only cook out the flavors and just have to keep adding additional spices.
  • 1/4 cup of good olive oil
  • 2-3 1/4 inch slices of salt pork or pancetta diced
  • 1 large onion diced
  • cut about 1-2 inches off the top of a bunch of celery including the leafs and dice
  • 2-4 cloves of chopped garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • small handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
  • I'm sure that many of you have used this starter before but just didn't know what it was called.


In a Med. size pan, add the ham bone, garlic, parsley and the chicken stock and bring to a boil. When boiling add the Parmeggiano skin and cook until the meat starts falling off the bone. In the sauté pan that you made the battuto in, add the olive oil and bring temp up to Med./high. Add the cabbage, S&P to taste, sauté until tender and set aside with juices. By this time your ham should be done so remove it from the liquid and let cool enough to handle but retain liquid. In the liquid add the battuto, cabbage, the beans and the meat that you removed from the bone and cut into bite size pieces. Bring to a boil then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Place a slice of bread in a good size soup bowl and ladle the Minestra over the top and serve with grated cheese.

My Mother's family had 10 children and my Father's side had 8; so as you can understand, they had to stretch a buck. Not that my generation was considered poor growing up, we did eat the same foods that our parents did. MINESTRA, ZUPPA, MINESTRONE & BRODO all refer to soup in Italy. However, when we had Minestra at home, this is what we got. As history goes, the Milanese captured the city of Florence in the early 1500ś. Ravished by the war, the Florentines had little food left for the hungry and demanding victors. Somewhat under the gun (even though they didn't have guns then) they put this concoction together to feed them. It was a simple bean soup ladled over the top of stale bread.

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Submitted 9/30/05.