It’s minestrone weather. Mine is thick, with an interesting bit of crunch thanks to the romaine. For minestrone with a kick, use spicy sausage or serve chilies alongside. Yellow zucchini adds a pop of colour, but you can use regular green zucchini. This recipe makes minestrone for a crowd. If you don’t have one, freeze portions for cold days when you crave hot nourishment.
1 lb (450 g) mild Italian sausages (about 4)
1 tbsp (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 oz (120 g) shredded green cabbage (2 to 2-1/4 cups/500 to 550 mL)
2 inner stalks celery with leaves, sliced
4 carrots (about 1/2 lb/250 g), sliced
2 oz (60 g) fennel, thinly sliced (1/2 to 2/3 cup/125 to 150 mL)
5 cups (1.25 mL) each: chicken stock, water
2 cups (500 mL) canned diced tomatoes with liquid
2 tsp (10 mL) or more kosher salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each: pepper, crumbled dried rosemary, dried oregano, dried basil
4 oz (125 g) green beans, trimmed, halved (about 1-1/4 cups/300 mL)
1 yellow zucchini (about 6 oz/170 g), sliced in semicircles
4 oz (125 g) small pasta eg. shells or bows (about 1 cup/250 mL)
19 oz (540 mL) can romano beans, drained, rinsed
1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped parsley
2 cups (500 mL) finely shredded romaine (about 3 leaves)
Freshly grated parmesan to taste
Chili flakes to taste
Squeeze sausages from casings into large pan. Discard casings. Brown meat on medium heat until cooked through, stirring and breaking up, about 5 minutes. Drain in sieve.
In same pan, heat oil on medium until shimmery. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes, until softened. Add cabbage, celery, carrots and fennel. Cook, stirring, 5 minutes, until softened. Add stock, water, sausage, tomatoes, 2 tsp (10 mL) salt, pepper, rosemary, oregano and basil. Turn heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and gently simmer 30 minutes. Add green beans and zucchini. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in medium pan of boiling, salted water according to package directions, or until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain.
Stir beans and parsley into soup. Cook, covered, until heated through, about 10 minutes. Stir in pasta and romaine. Adjust salt.
Serve sprinkled with parmesan and chilies.
Makes 19 cups (4.75 L).
Credit: Susan Sampson
Tested in Imperial