1. Food

Artusi's Minestrone Recipe

By

Minestrone is one of Italy's signature dishes, and every region has its own variety. This minestrone recipe is drawn from Pellegrino Artusi, the late dean of Italian gastronomes, and as you read it you will understand why his book is still selling briskly a century later.

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts (2 liters) simmering broth (beef or vegetable)
  • 1/2 cup dried white beans (cannellini or similar), or a cup fresh beans.
  • 1 packed cup each shredded Savoy cabbage, spinach, and beet greens
  • A clove of garlic, crushed
  • A bunch of parsley, a small carrot, a short celery stalk, and a small onion, minced
  • A zucchino and a potato, diced
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, or minced, seeded, and peeled sun-ripened or canned plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Boiling water
  • Grated Parmigiano

Preparation:

"In the summer of 1855 I was in Livorno", writes Artusi; "cholera was slithering here and there in many provinces of Italy, and had everyone dreading a general epidemic, which in fact burst out forthwith. One Saturday evening I went into an inn and asked "What kind of soup do you have?"

"Minestrone," came the answer.

"Bring me the minestrone," said I. I dined, took a walk, and went to bed, in a room in a spanking new hotel owned by a Mr. Dominici, in Piazza del Voltone. During the night my insides rebelled in a most frightful manner, and I went to and from the privy until dawn, damning the minestrone all the while.

The next morning I fled to Florence, where I recovered immediately. Monday came the sorry news that cholera had broken out in Livorno, and Mr. Dominici had been the first fatality - minestrone indeed!

Returning to the recipe, the vegetables listed above are indicative: Feel free to modify the list according to your tastes and what's available.

If the beans are dried, soak them overnight. If they are fresh, this won't be necessary. Heat the shredded greens in a pot until they wilt and drain them well.

Next, simmer the vegetables in the broth. When they’re almost done (taste a piece of potato; it should be soft but not falling apart), check seasoning, add the rice, and continue cooking, stirring gently. The rice should serve to absorb excess liquid, but if the soup gets too thick, add some boiling water.

Serve the soup with the grated cheese for those who want it. Artusi observes that some people like to add shredded salt pork to their minestrone as well, and goes on to warn that the dish "is best avoided by those with weak stomachs." It will serve four as part of a one course meal, with a tossed salad. I’d serve it with a light red wine, or a fairly robust white. A good Vermentino would be quite nice.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.