Minestrone Of Modena

(Minestrone Modenese)

  • 1/2 cup dried cannellini beans or borlotti beans
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 ounces sliced pancetta, chopped
  • 3 ounces sliced prosciutto, chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup minced yellow onions
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 1/2 cup minced carrots
  • 1 generous tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can tomatoes, drained
  • 2 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 ounces green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 4 ounces white mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cups shredded Savoy cabbage
  • 4 ounces asparagus, diced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen petite green peas
  • 8 to 10 basil leaves, shredded
  • 2 quarts warm water or canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Rind from a small piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano, scraped clean (optional)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Sort beans and soak overnight in water to cover.

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add pancetta, prosciutto, onions, celery, carrots, and parsley; cook, stirring until vegetables are lightly golden and soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir, about 5 minutes.

Drain and add cannellini beans, potatoes, green beans, zucchini, mushrooms, cabbage, asparagus, peas, and basil to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and stir for 2 to 3 minutes to coat vegetables well with savory base. Add warm water and Parmigiano rind; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer, stirring from time to time, for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the minestrone has a dense, thick consistency. (If the soup should thicken too much, add a bit more water.) Remove cheese rind, and adjust seasoning.

Turn off heat and let soup stand for about 30 minutes. Serve with a sprinkling of Parmigiano.

Serves 8 to 10

Note: Rice or small pasta such as ditalini can be added to the soup during the last minutes of cooking. Add rice 10 minutes before you turn off the heat, pasta 3 to 5 minutes before. The rice or pasta will keep cooking as the soup rests.

Adapted from Biba’s Taste of Italy. 2001. By Biba Caggiano, William Morrow Publishing