Upon returning from vacation a few days ago, I knew I needed to counteract the days and days of sitting, eating, and driving (over 3000 miles), so I was happy to see that the latest issue of Everyday Food contained a customizable recipe for minestrone. The basic recipe is good on its own, but I like the idea of tweaking it to suit your tastes or to use what is in the pantry or refrigerator.
I replaced the cabbage with Swiss chard and added the garlic up front with the other aromatics. It turned out to be one of the tastiest minestrones I’ve eaten, and I get to enjoy it for lunch all week long.
To go with the soup, I sliced up some Black Olive Sourdough bread that I had purchased at the Sunday farmers market in Lincoln, Nebraska. Le Quartier Baking Company had a booth there, and they were displaying some delicious baked goods. I couldn’t resist this particular bread, because I love kalamata olives. The ingredients are nice and simple – flour, water, starter, olives, and sea salt. The bread has a nice tang and lasted nearly a week without loss of quality. It’s too bad I’m so far away now, but it will give me a chance to experiment again with my own starter.
Minestrone, Your Way
+ Replace green beans with 2 cups diced zucchini or summer squash.
+ Replace potato with 1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded, and cubed butternut squash.
+ As an extra vegetable, use 1 1/2 cups frozen peas (add to soup after 15 minutes of simmering in step 3).
Instead of cabbage, choose a small bunch of robust greens (add to soup after 15 minutes of simmering in step 3).
+ Kale (tough stems removed), thinly sliced
+ Escarole, trimmed and thinly sliced
+ Swiss chard, trimmed and thinly sliced
Instead of cannellini beans, try a 15-ounce can of another variety.
+ Kidney beans, rinsed and drained
+ Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
+ Pinto beans, rinsed and drained
First Published: October 2008, Everyday Food