Monday, December 13, 2010

Fake Minstrone

I call this Minestrone "fake" because of the absence of a noodle of some sort.  I usually adapt soup recipes if they call for noodles or potatoes for two reasons:  I like to freeze soups and potatoes especially don't freeze well, and I love to serve soups with crusty bread so prefer not to have pasta in them.  

That being said, I LOVE the flavor of minestrone!  It has an underlying sweetness that blends beautifully with the rich tomatoey flavor and saltiness from the pancetta.  Don't want meat in your soup?  No worries.  You will never miss the panchetta so just leave it out!  Bo loves his soup served over brown rice so that is the photo seen above.  Serve with a grating of fresh Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of thick balsamic vinegar for an elegant starter or to kick it up as a main dish.  

The recipe below is cobbled together from inspiration of several recipes.  Enjoy!

Fake Minestrone
4 cups chicken stock
1 head garlic, halved
Extra virgin olive oil
8 fresh sage leaves
3 sprigs rosemary
3 oz pancetta, coarsely chopped
3 medium carrots, large dice
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 14 oz cans navy beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and Pepper

Parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar and a good crusty bread

Combine the broth and halved garlic head in a saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes to give the stock a nice, garlicky taste.  Remove the garlic. Keep warm.

Pour 2-3 T olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the sage and rosemary and warm the oil over medium-low heat 2-3 minutes. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp, 3-4 minutes.  Add the onion and carrots and cook until soft, 3-4 minutes, then add the tomatoes, bay leaf, beans and chicken stock.  Bring to boil over medium them turn to simmer for 30 minute.  Remove the large herbs and add salt and pepper to taste. 

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