minestrone with sun-dried tomatoes and arugula salsa verde

October 5, 2014


Every fall season needs its own version of minestrone made up from whatever is in season or happens to be in the pantry, as it has been for centuries. Some of the earliest origins of minestrone soup pre-date the expansion of the Latin tribes of Rome, “when the local diet was vegetarian by necessity.'” Marcus Apicius’s ancient cookbook De Re Coquinaria described polus, a Roman soup dating back to 30 AD made up of farro, chickpeas, and fava beans, with onions, garlic, and greens thrown in.

Like many Italian dishes, minestrone was probably originally not a dish made for its own sake – the ingredients were pooled from whatever happened to be in the pantry. There are two schools of thought on when the recipe for minestrone became more formalized, the details of which are confusing. Suffice it to say there are a number of theories with dates and reasons, and rationales, and so on.

Let the argument rage on. It’s no matter to me. If I had to choose I would go with an organic-use-whatever-is-available approach as I did with this minestrone. This version is made from vicki’s veggies awesome delicata squash, leeks, beans, slow roasted tomatoes, onions, and garlic from the farmers’ market yesterday – and fresh arugula for the salsa verde which adds an amazing spiciness, zip and zing to the soup. On a chilly autumn day you can’t beat it.

1 pound dried navy or cannellini (white kidney) beans (or canned beans)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling

2 large onions, finely chopped

4 small leeks, white and pale-green parts only, finely chopped

4 small celery stalks with leaves (from celery heart), chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

sea salt, freshly ground pepper

1 squash, delicata or otherwise (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, cut into 1/2″ pieces

10 cups veggie stock

1 pound green beans, trimmed, cut into 1″ pieces

1 cup slow-roasted tomatoes (or just fresh tomatoes if necessary)

1 pound small pasta (such as tiny shells or pipette)

small bunch of thyme, leaves removed

Place navy beans in a large pot; add cold water to cover by 2″. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 1 hour.

Heat 1/2 cup oil in another large heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add onion, leeks, celery, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 20 minutes.

Add squash, navy beans, soaking liquid, and stock to pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until navy beans are tender, 1 1/2–2 hours.

When soup is almost finished cooking, add green beans, slow-roasted tomatoes, pasta and thyme leaves. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente. Adjust seasoning. Serve with a big dollop of salsa verde.

salsa verde

2 plum tomatoes

1 garlic clove

3 cups arugula leaves

1/4 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon capers

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more

Mix tomatoes, garlic, arugula, breadcrumbs, capers, and vinegar in a food processor. Pulse on low until just roughly chopped. Quickly mix in 3/4 cup oil so it stays roughly chopped but well mixed. Transfer to a bowl and pour a little oil on surface to keep salsa from discoloring.


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