OK, so a good few of y’all have asked for the zero-to-minestrone in an hour recipe, so here goes.
There is much leeway in this wonderful soup. You can make it with meat or vegetarian. You can add whatever veggies are in house with confidence. In other words, there are few rules. That said, what I’ll propose as the single non-negotiable point is this: the base stock should be veggie and include white beans, (AKA Great Northerns). As I’ve said numerous times here, try it this way first and then go forth as you see fit thereafter…
So, let’s say that like me the other night, you got a hankering for soup, it’s 5 pm, you have no stock on hand and nothing prepped. Ready?
Open and lightly rinse a can of white beans. Pour them into a sauce pan and add,
2 Cups hot water
1 small Shallot, minced
1 Bay Leaf
Sprig of Parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon Italian Oregano
Shake Sea Salt
Twist of ground Pepper
Get that up to a simmer and reduce heat so it barely perks along.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Choose 1 medium sweet onion, then choose carrot and celery for size so that you get roughly 50% onion and 25% each celery and carrot, then rough chop. Toss those on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and shove them in the oven for 15 minutes.
Set a stock pot over high heat with 10 cups of hot water and bring to a boil.
When the veggie timer goes off, pull them out of the oven and throw them into the boiling water. Allow them to boil freely for 15 minutes, then strain or scoop all the veggies out and toss ’em in your compost. Toss the bean pan contents into the stock pot and there’s your speed stock.
Dice 2 or 3 potatoes and a carrot, then throw them in the microwave for a minute or two until just fork tender; add them to the pot. If there are any other root veggies you have or like, do the same with those.
In a sauté pan over medium high heat, toss 1/2 diced sweet onion and a stalk or two of celery until they start to soften and sweat; throw those into the pot. If you have the leaves and tiny shoots on your celery,so much the better, just use that.
Begin scavenging the fridge and shelves. I found fresh frozen corn, peas and green beans as well as canned tomatoes we’d preserved earlier in the year and threw a handful of each into the mix. If you’ve got leftover pasta or rice in the fridge, in it goes; this is how and why minestrone has been made for many moons, capiche?
Now you can make this a broth soup or you can make it stewier if you like. If thickening appeals to you, the simplest way is to just purée some of the soup and add it back; that’ll give you slight thickening and will honor the flavor you’ve chosen exactly, of course. If you want thicker still, use a slice or two of day old bread, or a scoop of some of that rice or pasta you found in the fridge, or even leftover mashed potatoes. Take that chosen thickener, toss it in your blender or processor, add two or three ladles of soup and let ‘er rip, then return that to your stock pot and viola.
Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, then allow your minestrone to simmer for 15 minutes or so. Take that time to use your preheated oven and make some quick corn bread, or rub slices of baguette with a split clove of garlic and a brush of butter.
Serve hot and bask in your ingenuity.