Feb 28, 2013

Winter minestrone

Soups are no-brainer, who needs a recipe? Right. You don't. If you know a couple of rules, you don't. Because there are soups and there are soups. I went ahead and made the latter.

First, I made a good stock. You can buy stock in a can or in a cube. You can make your soup with plain water. I have never done cube nor can, water - yes. Water, ignorance and impatience - yes, yes, yes. Were they great soups...? I don't remember.

Second, I didn't overcook the vegetables. I like for the veggie pieces to retain their shape and sharp edges. Not hard, not soft. Just right, looking good and fresh.

The minestrone is an Italian tradition,  it means "a big soup". It's thick and hearty, perfect for winter months. There are many variations of the soup.  I've made some adjustments too. I substituted bacon for pieces of smoked ham. I added just a bit of it, because I didn't want a smokey flavor to overpower the dish. And I added lentils I cooked myself, in place of canned white beans. As for the rest of the ingredients, I had most of them in my fridge, which gave me the idea to make this soup to begin with.

The soup turned out exceptional. Even Hania, my 11-year old, didn't just eat it. She enjoyed it too. Julian gave it 5 stars.

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

time: 40 min


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, pealed and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 oz thinly sliced smoked ham
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb (250 g) spinach
  • 1 medium potato, chopped
  • 1 small can (14 oz/400 ml) diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 14 oz (400 g) cooked lentils
  • 1 quart (1 liter) chicken stock or water
  • 1 oz (30 g) piece of Parmesan rind
  • 2 Tablespoon of flat leaf parsley + some for topping
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated Parmesan for topping
  1. In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium/high. Add onions, garlic, carrots, celery and ham. Saute till onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. This combo is start-up for many Italian dishes.
  2. Add potatoes and spinach. Saute for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and thyme. Simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, blend 3/4 of the lentils with 1/4 cup of broth till almost smooth. Add blended lentils, remaining broth, Parmesan rind. Simmer for about 15 minutes till potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Add whole lentils and parsley. Cook for another 2 minutes, season to taste and serve with grated Parmesan and parsley on top.

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