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Rainbow Minestrone

Soup has been especially comforting during this viral “confinement.” More than most, this is one of those “tried and true” recipes I’ve made over and over. I use the basic recipe from the late cookbook author and Italian food expert Marcella Hazan, but I tweak it a bit, depending on what vegetables are in season in my area.

I usually use less oil/butter than she calls for – 4-6 Tbs. is fine. You can use all olive oil if you’d like it vegan, and in that case eliminate the cheese rind, and use all water or vegetable stock for the liquid. This time I had nice leeks, so used those instead of onions. When green beans are out of season, I substitute sugar snap peas, adding them towards the end of cooking so they’ll still have a bit of snap to them. I used brussel sprouts, halved, instead of cabbage, a pretty option, and added 1 c. of sliced (bright!) purple kale. Buon Appetito.

6 to 8 servings

¼- 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp. butter (optional)

1 c. onion, sliced very thin, or substitute sliced leeks

1 c. diced carrots

1 c. diced celery

2 c. peeled, diced potatoes

1/4 lb. fresh green beans (or sugar snap peas)

1 lb. fresh zucchini, diced (can substitute yellow squash)

3 c. shredded Savoy cabbage or regular cabbage, or 2 cups brussel sprouts, halved, plus 1 c. purple kale, sliced

1 1/2 c. canned cannellini or garbonzo beans, drained

2 c. chicken broth, vegetable broth or water

2 c. water

Optional: the crust from a large piece of parmigiano-reggiano cheese or pecorino romano cheese, scraped clean

A 28-oz. can Italian peeled tomatoes, with their juice

Sea salt

1/3 c. freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese or pecorino romano (optional). Can substitute Follow Your Heart’s vegan Parmesan, it's tasty.

In a large stockpot, place the oil, butter, and sliced onion and turn on the heat to medium low. Cook the onion in the uncovered pot until it wilts and becomes colored a pale gold, but no darker.

Add the diced carrots and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring once or twice. Then add the celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, repeating the same procedure.

While the carrots, celery, and potatoes are cooking, soak the green beans in cold water, rinse, snap off both ends, and dice them.

Add the diced green beans to the pot, and when they have cooked for 2 or 3 minutes, add the zucchini. Continue to give all ingredients an occasional stir and, after another few minutes, add the shredded cabbage. Continue cooking for another 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the broth, water, the optional cheese crust, the tomatoes with their juice, and a sprinkling of salt. If using canned broth, salt lightly at this stage and taste and correct for salt later on. Give the contents of the pot a thorough stirring. Cover the pot, and lower the heat, adjusting it so that the soup bubbles slowly, cooking at a steady, but gentle, simmer.

When the soup has cooked for 1 hour, add the cannelini beans, stir well, and simmer for another 30 minutes. If using sugar snap peas, add them during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Cook until the consistency is fairly dense. Minestrone ought never to be thin and watery. If you should find that the soup is becoming too thick before it has finished cooking, you can add a little more broth or water.

When the soup is done, just before you turn off the heat, remove the cheese crust, swirl in the grated cheese, then taste and correct for salt.

(Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan)

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