Minestrone I

In our house, minestrone is always made with odd lots of vegetables—three or four carrots left in the bin, two or three remaining ribs of celery, a quarter head of cabbage—whatever vegetables we have on hand. Our minestrone is always delicious and interesting and contains an abundance of healthful, colorful vegetables.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale green parts only, well washed and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 12-ounce package navy pea beans, picked over
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 10 large fresh basil leaves
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 small zucchini, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ¼ medium head green cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 12 green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 small head escarole (about 12 ounces), coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup pastina (tiny pasta bits)

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions, garlic, leek, carrots, and celery. Stir to coat the vegetables with the oil. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened and released some of their moisture. Add the water and the navy pea beans. Cover, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook at a medium boil for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the tomato paste, parsley, basil, bay leaves, oregano, a little salt, and pepper. Cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until the beans are barely tender. Add the potatoes, zucchini, cabbage, green beans, and escarole. Stir well to mix. Cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 50 minutes, or until the beans are tender.
  3. Stir in the pastina. Cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 6-10 minutes or until the pastina is soft. Taste for seasonings.

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