This is by far the best minestrone I've ever had and I'll never stray from it. I might tweak it a bit, but I'll never abandon it fully. It's from epicurious.com and can be found here. It's odd, because when you do a general search on "minestrone" at their website, you'll get eleven recipes. Ten fit on a page and this recipe, the best in the whole world, four forks and all, resides by its lonesome on the second and last page. It's a hidden gem.
Here's what you need:
It's a long list of items but don't be scared away. And feel free to substitute as required, or leave out some things if you don't have them, like the kale. You can use canned white beans, but I used dried. I cooked those first in the morning.
And here were my two substitutions. These long chinese beans for regular beans. Frozen green beans work very well, too. My heart skipped a few beats when I saw these in the Green Market.
And this, oriental/chinese celery for regular celery.
There are two secrets to this minestrone that I think brings it over the top. The first is to fry up some sort of pork product: pancetta, bacon, sausage. I'd show you a picture of the first several steps but I was busy chatting away in my kitchen with a friend. More like venting, actually. She has very good ears. Thank you!
At some point, mid-way through, you'll have this. After the bacon was nice and crispy, I added the onions, garlic, celery and carrots.
Then you chop up your green and white vegetables: zucchini, potatoes and green beans.
And shredded cabbage. I doubled the amount because of the missing kale.
All of that goodness cooks down for a few minutes.
And then you add your tomatoes and your broth.
Put a lid on it and simmer for an hour. The soup that is, not you. However, yesterday I could've followed these rules and been better for it.
The second secret to this soup is to puree half the white beans.
It thickens the soup and add a creaminess to it that's divine.
And then add the rest of the whole beans.
If you can, make this the day before you serve it because it's even better the next day. I froze a bunch for the winter and will be thankful to have this on hand when I might not have electricity!