Minestrone della nonna

My granmother's vegetable soup   Our original home cooking

Some of you may be wondering: why this name? Because this is the minestrone soup my grandmother was used to do. Carlo and I often make it. We prepare this recipe throughout the year. A perfect example of Mediterranean diet recipe.

grandmother's minestrone soup, the photo shows an earthenware pot full of minestrone with rice, beans and a lot of chopped vegetables
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Grandmother minestrone, Italian-style

Ingredients / Serves 6

  • 150g (5 1/3 ounces) Swiss chard, the green part separated from the white center
  • 300g (10 1/2 ounces) green cabbage, cut into strips
  • 150g (5 1/3 ounces) dried beans
  • 300g (10 1/2 ounces) ripe and firm tomatoes, chopped
  • 400g (14 ounces) potatoes, peeled
  • 200g (7 ounces) carrots, sliced
  • 200g (7 ounces) leek, finely sliced
  • 100g (3 1/2 ounces) fresh young onion, finely sliced
  • 80g (2.8 ounces) white celery, finely sliced
  • 60g (2.1 ounces) fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 dried sage leaf
  • Some basil leaves
  • 60g (2.1 ounces) bacon, diced
  • 120g (4 1/4 ounces) rice
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Crust of Parmesan cheese, if liked
  • Salt
  • Hot chilli pepper or black pepper, if liked
  • Time:
    preparation: 40 minutes
    cooking: about 2 hours
    total: 2 hours 40 minutes
  • Difficulty:
    easy recipe
  • How many calories in a serving?
    Calories: 330 (kcal) 17 % GDA (*)- 1380 (kJ)
    Protein: 13.7 (g) 19 % GDA
    Total fat: 10.8 (g) 16 % GDA
    Total carbohydrate: 48.0 (g) 18 % GDA
    Sugars: 9.6 (g) 11 % GDA

Look at infographic of nutrition facts

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How to make minestrone, Italian style

Preparation and cooking

  • - The evening before.
    Soak dried beans in cold water overnight.
  • - The day after Prepare all the vegetables listed above.
    Remember to separate the green from the white part of Swiss chard. Slice all stalks finely and cut leaves into larger strips.
    Let potatoes whole.
  • - Cook your minestrone soup.
    Crumble the sage leaf and place it in a large pot. Then add: parsley, onions, bacon, celery, carrots, leek, Swiss chard stalk, tomatoes, drained beans, potatoes and green cabbage. Add a piece of Parmesan crust if you like it.
    Cover all these vegetables with 2.5 liters (5 1/4 pints) cold water.
    Season to taste with salt and bring to a boil, on medium heat.
    Then reduce heat and simmer, half-covered, on very low heat, stirring now and then, about an hour.
    At this point add the green part of Swiss chard and cook for other 15 minutes.
    Crush potatoes with a fork to thicken your soup and add rice.
    Taste to determine if your soup needs added salt, add the hot chili pepper too (if you like it) and let rice cook until tender.
    Add other hot water only if necessary.

Just before serving

  • - Once turned off the stove, add olive oil and basil leaves cut into pieces by hands. Stir.
    Your minestrone soup is ready.
    Serve it hot, warm or cold, according to your own taste.

Note

Tips

  • - Serve this minestrone soup accompanying it with a bowl full of grated Parmesan. Everyone will be able to serve himself according to his own taste.
  • - I use fresh beans in summer. In this case the right amount is 500 to 600 grams (1.1 to 1.3 pounds) if in the pod.
  • - This minestrone recipe is a healthy idea not only for the amount of vegetables but also for other reasons. I'm not used to saute onion and garlic in olive oil but add the olive oil only at the end, once turned off the stove. So I can preserve all the nutrition properties of olive oil.
  • - Minestrone is a long-to-do recipe. I have no tip for a quicker recipe but I can tell you what I'm used to do at my home.
    1. I prepare a great amount of minestrone (for 2 to 3 days) and keep it in the fridge. Every day I bring the right dose to the boil and add rice to complete its cooking.
    2. When I have enough time, I prepare a great amount of minestrone and freeze the right portions for my husband and I without rice. When we decide to eat minestrone, I thaw it, bring to a boil and add rice.
    3. In summer, I generally freeze the single vegetables divided into individual portions. In this way it's very quick to prepare my minestrone in winter.
  • - Every family has his own recipe book that comes from local traditions and home cooking. My grandmother lived in Piedmont near Ticino river and so near Lombardy. In her minestrone soup there are influences of both regions, Piedmont and Lombardy. The rice is common in Lombardy. Besides my grandmother added a large piece of Parmesan crust, a tradition of Piedmont cuisine. She made some variations according to the season and types of vegetables she found at farmer's market.
    Nowadays we have all the vegetables available throughout the year but only few people know the seasonal vegetables exactly. On the contrary it would be necessary for a healthy eating.
    My mother was used to make minestrone in the same way and sometimes added a prosciutto bone instead of pancetta. Yummy!

Menu planning

  • - You can make minestrone all year round choosing vegetables according to the season. If you do not find leek, you can replace it increasing onion amount. Spinach can substitute Swiss chard. Sometimes, I use only savoy cabbage.
  • - You can avoid adding rice or pasta and purée your minestrone. It becomes a low calorie dish you can serve at the beginning of your meal. Vegetables create a sense of satiety that will make you eat less meat. Which is good, from all points of view.

Healthy eating

  • - Italian minestrone is a dish to be served in your family menu but is a gourmet dish, without a shadow of a doubt. Although meat is seen little or nothing in the vegetarian version and its main ingredients are only vegetables. You have to know a lot of things: how to bring all vegetables to be cooked perfectly, how to combine them wisely so that the starch of potatoes, pulses and pasta makes it thick at the right point. Perfect for the Mediterranean diet!
    From the nutritional point of view it has the great advantage of being low in calories (provided you add little pasta or rice) which allow you to eat another dish, not rich in calories and fat, obviously.
    And it's a perfect way to teach kids to eat vegetables
  • - Fiber per serving: 10.3 grams, about the third part recommended as daily intake.

Loretta

What's the right wine for " My granmother’s vegetable soup "?

Rose-colored, sapid wine is usually recommended with Italian minestrone. But there are other pairings such as white or red wine. If you prefer red wine our tip is Trentino DOC Merlot.