In culinary tradition, minestrone is soup made with whatever you have around. This recipe can be made with almost any vegetable, and my versions vary according to season and budget. The following ingredient list is just a favorite variation. You can successfully make this soup with fewer ingredients. As mentioned, I like to cook the day before, reheat and then add the last batch of vegetables right before serving. But it's good on the first day too. I usually serve up the bowls individually, spooning the soup over the pasta and fresh mozzarella.
- ½ pound bacon (diced)
- 1 large onion
- 1 leek (both green and white parts)
- 1 turnip (chopped)
- 2 potatoes (chopped)
- 1 cup cabbage or curly kale (chopped)
- 2 fresh tomatoes or ½ can of chopped tomatoes
- ½ cup fresh parsley or basil (chopped)
- 1 pinch thyme
- ½ bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
- 2 pints water
- 2 pints stock (optional -- water can be substituted)
- 3 mushrooms (chopped)
- 1 carrot (chopped)
- 1 stick of celery (minced)
- 1 small zucchini (minced)
- 3 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 3 cups precooked pasta
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella
- grated Parmesan
- salt and pepper to taste
- Fry bacon in a large pot over medium heat. As it begins to fry, add onion and leek, and sauté until the bacon is cooked and the onions and leeks have begun to soften, a few minutes.
- Add potatoes, turnip, ½ of the cabbage or kale, garlic, thyme, paprika, some pepper, tomatoes and the bay leaf. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to break down.
- Add water and/or stock, and ½ the parsley or basil, bring to a boil, and turn down to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the rest of the vegetables and herbs (you may want to save some basil or parsley for garnish). Cook until these vegetables are cooked, but still have some snap for texture.
- In each bowl, spoon pasta and top with slices of fresh mozzarella. Ladle soup over the pasta and cheese, sprinkle Parmesan, garnish with parsley or basil, and serve.