When I was in Italy, a while back, one of the delicious, reliable gluten-free staples was the local minestrone soup. A well-prepared minestrone is a simple, rich, delicious concoction of stock, vegetables, beans, and herbs. But, it tastes like the stuff culinary dreams are made of. Never once did the local versions of this timeless Italian classic fail to disappoint. On my return to the U.S., I resolved to find the best minestrone recipe I could find, and to master that recipe to the best of my abilities. Behold the fruits of my odyssey.
Minestrone is best when prepared a day in advance and refrigerated overnight to allow the flavors to marry. For those who enjoy noodles in their minestrone, simply boil up some of your favorite gluten-free pasta and add to the soup as you like.
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, sliced
4 carrots, chopped
2 zucchini, thinly sliced
8 ounces green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
6 leaves of Napa cabbage, roughly chopped
3 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
2 pounds chopped Roma tomatoes
2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 cans of canellini, or white beans, with liquid (15 ounces each)
½ cup red wine (optional)
salt and ground black pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a large soup pot, over medium heat. Add leeks, carrots, zucchini, green beans, and celery. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.
Stir in the stock, cabbage, tomatoes, thyme and canned beans with liquid. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 30 minutes.
If desired add red wine at this point. Simmer for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow to cool to serving temperature. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with grated Peccorino Romano cheese and a sprinkle of chopped fresh Italian parsley.
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