Italian Secrets To Making The Best Minestrone Soup
Always start making minestrone with an Onion, Carrot and Celery mix – known as Soffritto or a Holy Trinity of Italian Cuisine. Most soups and ragu sauces start with this veggie trio. All other flavors build up on this.
Even though you can use just any leftover veggies you have in the fridge, true secret to a delicious Grandma minestrone soup lies in fresh veggies from Sunday farmer’s market.
If you’re not planning to consume all the soup in an one go, cook pasta in a separate pot instead of a cooking it directly in the soup pot.
Add it to your minestrone (just to the part you’re going to consume immediately) before serving.
Otherwise pasta will become overcooked and make a minestrone too mushy.
Same applies for rice and other grains like farro, barley (orzo) etc.
Once all the hard veggies and water or broth are in the pot, add a piece of Parmesan cheese rind. Yes, just the rind. It’s a game changer. And most well kept secret (just kidding).
Seriously though, it burst the flavor of veggies and broth 10x.
Simmer the veggies with Parmesan rind and finish cooking Minestrone as normally. Take out the rind before serving.
Minestrone Soup Ingredients
Onions – you can use shallots or leek as an alternative.
Carrots – just regular carrots.
Celery – and regular celery.
Garlic (optional) – I like to add whole piece crushed with flat knife to let it release flavor but not overpowering with a strong garlic taste if you mince it.
Pancetta (optional) – since minestrone is a vegetable soup it’s a perfect meal for lent. So pancetta, guanciale or lard cut in cubes is completely optional, but it gives an incredible rich, intense flavor to the veggies as if they were cooked in meat stock (which by the way is also an option).
This base mix is nothing else than a slightly extended version of a classic Italian Soffritto, which is also the base for many other traditional Italian dishes.
The only difference, which is influenced a lot by a personal preference, is that when making Minestrone Soup I like a slightly chunkier cut as opposed to fine a dice soffritto cut in all other recipes.
Potato – is always in season
Tomatoes – any kind of
tomatoes will do. You can also use good quality canned tomatoes.
Pumpkin or Butternut Squash – available during cold season
Broccoli or Cauliflower – available during cold season. I suggest to use cruciferous veggies in moderation due to their strong taste. Just a couple of florets will do for a pot for 4 servings.
Artichokes – winter/spring time
Zucchini – spring/summer time
Green Beans – spring/summer time
Bell pepper- spring/summer time. Like to broccoli and cauliflower, use in moderation to not overpower other vegetables.
Asparagus – spring time
Peas – you’d normally use frozen peas so you can use them all year a round but you can totally use fresh peas during spring/summer time.
How To Make Italian Minestrone Soup – Step By Step
In a large pot add a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, roughly a chopped onion, carrots, celery, garlic clove, and pancetta cubes.
Saute on medium heat for a few minutes stirring a couple of times in the process.
Add potatoes, butternut a squash, tomatoes, bay leaf, rosemary sprigs and a couple of pinches of salt.
Give a nice stir and add enough water (or broth) to cover all the veggies.
Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for about 40 minutes. Add more liquid if needed.
Past this time veggies will become super soft and will “melt” one into another creating a delicious creamy texture.
Once veggies are cooked add a chopped savoy cabbage or other leafy greens and drained a canned beans. Add more water if needed.
Give a nice stir and cook for another 5 minutes.
As a last step, add pasta or rice. Let cook for 5-15 more minutes
If you’re not planning to serve minestrone right away, don’t add pasta or rice immediately.
Instead, bring the soup to a boil when you’re ready to serve it and then add pasta or rice.
Minestrone is ready to serve when pasta (rice) is cooked. I takes about 5-6 minutes for ditalini pasta and about 15 minutes for rice.
Can I prepare Italian Minestrone Soup in advance?
Yes! In fact, minestrone tastes best when it’s a rested. Just remember to add pasta/grains as the last step before serving.