I know I’ve already made minestrone before, but I saw another recipe a few months ago on Chef John’s YouTube channel that I have been wanting to try myself. This is a fantastic and classic minestrone while at the same time being recognizably different from my older recipe. Chef John used pancetta and chicken broth, but I omitted the pancetta and used vegetable broth, making it vegetarian-friendly.
This recipe uses chickpeas — you can use canned but as usual, I would highly recommend pre-soaking some dried chickpeas prior to cooking.
Start with some chopped onion and celery. Toss them into a large pot or dutch oven with a little olive oil and set it to medium heat.
Mince a few (3–4) cloves of garlic and add them to the pot when the onions begin to turn translucent.
After about a minute of letting the garlic cook, add about four cups of vegetable broth, half as much water, and a can of crushed tomatoes. Increase the heat a little bit and allow the pot to come to a simmer.
Note: Any time during cooking this soup, if it seems to be getting too thick, add some water. You will likely end up adding another cup or two of water before it’s finished.
While it heats up, chop some cabbage. Two or three cups’ worth should do it.
Add the cabbage and spices: basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme, to taste, and a pinch of red pepper flakes to add some kick. Add a big pinch of salt as well.
The chickpeas can go in now. If you’re using canned chickpeas, make sure to rinse them well before putting them into your soup.
When this is simmering, turn it down to medium-low and leave it until the vegetables are all tender. It’s very important to wait long enough here, because if your beans or veggies are undercooked after this step, they will likely stay that way. Give it a good half hour or so. Make sure to test a chickpea or two and make sure they are tender and cooked through.
While the vegetables cook, prep your swiss chard (or other greens). Swiss chard is a great choice as the red stems and dark green leaves add a lot of colour to the soup. Rinse the greens very well, and then separate the stems from the leaves with a v-shaped cut and chop them separately. You can stack the leaves together and then roll them up to make chopping easier. It doesn’t matter how neat you are here, but make sure the greens are chopped enough so that there are no huge pieces.
Add in the greens, stir them in, and simmer for another fifteen minutes or so. Taste your broth and adjust your seasonings as you like. I added some salt and pepper, but you can also add more red pepper if you like your food spicy.
After that, add about two-thirds of a cup of ditali or ditalini pasta. When the pasta’s in, turn the heat up and let the soup simmer enough to cook the pasta. It should take another fifteen minutes or so.
When the pasta is tender, the soup is done! Serve this garnished with some Parmesan cheese and parsley, with a hunk of french bread or simply some crackers.
Enjoy, as always. I made so much of this that I put out a call on Facebook to give it away to my friends, as I couldn’t possibly have eaten it all myself. Luckily, I had a couple of takers and every bowl went to a good home.