Sunday, February 12, 2012

Winter Minestrone

We've been having an insane winter. No snow, and crazy temperature fluctuations. On Thursday, I went out to run an errand during lunch and it was 55 degrees. Today, it was 21. Super cold and windy, it was a perfect day for thick, hearty soup. Minestrone is the most ubiquitous Italian soup, there are so many different variations and flavors you can incorporate. Different regions of Italy have different preparations, and many vary seasonally as well. I love minestrone, but I find that in restaurants, it's usually quite salty. My goal with this recipe was to cut back on fat and sodium while adding a ton of protein and fiber.

I decided to make a tasty winter minestrone, that incorporates lots of gorgeous winter produce. Instead of pasta, which can get soggy in soup, I used farro, which has both a ton of fiber and a chewy texture that holds up well in the soup. In addition to farro and beans, I used carrots, turnips, kale and rainbow chard. I used a small amount of smoked bacon to add flavor, but you can omit for a vegetarian version. All and all, this soup takes around an hour to prepare and makes 6-8 servings. I made a huge pot of this to use for multiple lunches and dinners. Because it is packed with protein, fiber and healthy veggies, it is a totally complete meal.

Also: how completely adorable are these soup crocks? My amazing Grandma Jackie sent them to me. They are the perfect serving size and both oven and dishwasher safe. I am so excited to use these for all kinds of soup and stew!

Read more for the full recipe!

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium leek, sliced (white part only)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 oz (1/4 lb) smoked bacon, diced (optional - omit for a vegetarian version)
3 carrots, diced
1 tsp sea salt
1.5 tsp black pepper
1 1/4 cup dry farro
12-16 oz diced or crushed tomatoes
6 cups low sodium veggie broth
2 large sprigs of fresh oregano
1 medium turnip, peeled and chopped into 1" chunks
3 cups lactino kale, washed and chopped into 1" ribbons
3 cups rainbow chard, stems chopped and leaves washed and chopped into 1" ribbons
1 1/2 cups cannelini beans (1 15oz can)
parmesan cheese

Step by Step Instructions:

1. In a large saucepan or dutch oven, saute onion, leek and garlic in olive on medium heat until soft

2. Add bacon, carrots, and chard stems, saute on medium heat for 5-6 minutes

3. Season with salt and pepper

4. Add farro, tomatoes, veggie broth, and oregano, cover and bring to a boil

5. Reduce heat to med-low and cook for 20 minutes

6. Add turnip, chard, kale and remaining broth

7. Cover and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes

8. Add beans, cover and continue to cook on medium for another 10-15 minutes

9. Serve with parmesan and crusty bread

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At February 12, 2012 at 11:07 PM , Blogger Stephie said...

This looks super delicious! I'm not a huge fan of broth-y soups, but good minestrone is one exception to this. Healthy and hearty- yum!

At February 13, 2012 at 2:04 AM , Blogger Kim Bee said...

Oh yummo. I don't normally like soup but minestrone I love. This looks really amazing. After being at the barn freezing my tush off I could really go for this.

At February 13, 2012 at 7:22 AM , Blogger Tina said...

If I had to choose only one soup as my last meal it would definitely be minestrone! It is the perfect comfort food in my opinion. Also, I like that everything is in small chunks-I would much rather get a spoonful of all the ingredients than just a huge chunk of a carrot. Saving this recipe-yum!

At February 13, 2012 at 9:15 AM , Blogger Kristina said...

Your pictures look delicious! I love the little soup crocks! I love minestrone but I'm always thrown off by the pasta in it, I don't like having big pasta in my soup, I'll definitely try farro next time, great idea!

At February 13, 2012 at 9:27 AM , Blogger Suzi said...

This is a wonderful hearty soup and one of my favorites. Loaded with veggies and I like that you added the kale and chard. Yum!

At February 13, 2012 at 9:39 AM , Blogger Maya said...

I love the soup crocks, so pretty! I've never cooked with farro before, is there anything I can substitute it with?

At February 13, 2012 at 9:52 AM , Blogger Dara Reppucci said...

Thanks! You could absolutely substitute another hearty whole grain in there instead of farro. I have had a lot of success making minestrone with quinoa. You could also add barley, which stands up really well in thick soups.

At February 13, 2012 at 11:02 AM , Blogger PolaM said...

Minestrone is maybe the only thing I never eat. For some reason I just cannot stomach it, I think it is the mushiness of the vegetables. Now your version with the beans and farro and kale... well I think I would like it!

At February 13, 2012 at 12:09 PM , Blogger Dara Reppucci said...

Thanks! I generally find it very unappetizing at restaurants, but like most things, it's usually better when you make it your own way.

At February 13, 2012 at 12:46 PM , Blogger Georgia | The Comfort of Cooking said...

What a great recipe, Dara! Your photos are so beautiful and it seems so simple - just as winter food should be. So glad to have found your lovely blog... I'm a former Bostonian myself!

At February 13, 2012 at 6:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful! :) I love minestrone, and Cleveland is covered in snow - definitely soup weather!

At February 14, 2012 at 12:11 PM , Blogger said...

Wish I had this for lunch!

At February 14, 2012 at 12:11 PM , Blogger said...

Wish I had this for lunch!

At February 14, 2012 at 4:09 PM , Blogger Jenn Kendall said...

this is so beautiful and delicious looking! totally wish i had a bowl of this right now!

At February 14, 2012 at 9:43 PM , Blogger Kim Bee said...

Congrats on top 9 chickie!

At February 14, 2012 at 10:38 PM , Blogger 4evaRisa said...

Farro is a great substitution for the pasta. I love it.

This looks so good.

I totally agree about the fluctuation in weather this winter. Normally we have at least 4-6 inches of snow on the ground in February and yet we have nothing. Expecting rain but no snow. Today started in the 20's and went into the 50's. Weird winter but I am happy we have no snow.

At February 15, 2012 at 6:41 PM , Blogger Sweet and Salty SF said...

Mmmm, love the smoked bacon in the recipe! And how adorable are those soup crocks!


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