"Leftover" Minestrone

Todd Coleman

This recipe comes from Tamar Adler's cookbook An Everlasting Meal (available in print and on the Apple iBookstore. "Minestrone is the perfect food. I advise eating it for as many meals as you can bear, or that number plus one," says Tamar. This particular recipe is brilliant in its versatility: it's designed to use whatever it is you have on hand, including leftover aromatics, greens, meats, and pasta.

"Leftover" Minestrone
The concept of this soup is to use up all the bits of vegetables and pantry items in your kitchen to create a simple soup that will be inherently different each time you make it.
Yield: serves About 12

Ingredients

  • 1 cup combination of diced onion, carrot, celery, leek, and fennel
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 12 cup olive oil
  • 1 small pinch of chile flakes
  • 1 (end piece) of cured meat or hard salami (about 5 oz.), diced
  • 1 cup any combination parsley, thyme, marjoram, basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 cups any combination kale, spinach, or other greens, roughly chopped (stems and leaves, ribs, and cores, cooked or raw)
  • 12 cup well-chopped whole tomatoes, or drained canned tomatoes
  • 12 - 1 cups (Optional) chopped root vegetables (if they are there and need to be cooked, or cooked and need to be eaten)
  • 6 cups cooked beans
  • 1 Parmesan rind (about 4")
  • 8 cups liquid, from any combination bean broth, stock, and liquid from cans of tomatoes
  • 1 cup small pasta such as orecchiette, little tubes, or small penne Pesto, olive tapenade, fresh ricotta, or parsley for garnish

Instructions

  1. Cook the onion, carrot, celery, leek, fennel, and garlic in the olive oil until tender in a big pot. Add the chile flakes and any cured meat. Stir to combine. Add the herbs, greens, tomatoes, root vegetables, beans, and cheese rind, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot. Add liquid to cover and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, until everything has agreed to become minestrone.
  2. Just before you eat the soup, cook the pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water, only enough for the soup you're planning to eat that week, and add it to the week's soup. If you freeze minestrone, cook new pasta whenever you eat the minestrone you've frozen.
  3. Garnish with pesto or olive tapenade, a big dollop of fresh ricotta, or a few leaves of parsley.

Excerpted with permission from An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler (Scribner, 2011)