This gutsy vegetable soup is all about the slow-simmer.
This soup, a longtime fixture on the menu at Nick’s Italian Cafe in the Willamette Valley wine region town of McMinnville, Oregon, is served tableside from a tureen and topped with a generous spoonful of fragrant, freshly made pesto. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and pecorino complete the soup, adding a cheesy, savoriness to the minestrone. The recipe calls for beef stock base, a restaurant product that has become more widely available in supermarkets. We recommend robust Better Than Bouillon. Check out all of our best soup recipes to ward off the cold, fall and winter chill.
Featured in: “Nick Peirano Feeds the Oregon Wine Country.”
For the soup:
- 3 medium carrots, peeled, divided
- 6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 1⁄2 green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 1⁄4 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
- 1⁄2 lb. lean salt pork, rinsed
- One 14 1/2-oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1⁄2 cup tomato paste
- 1⁄4 cup beef stock base
- 1⁄4 cup dried basil
- 1 tbsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper, plus more
- 1⁄2 lb. string beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 1⁄4 shelled fresh or frozen peas
- Kosher salt
For the pesto:
- 1⁄2 cup loosely packed basil leaves
- 1⁄2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
- 1⁄4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
- 1⁄4 cup finely grated pecorino romano, plus more for serving
- 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. pine nuts
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Make the soup: Coarsely chop 1 of the carrots and transfer it to the work bowl of a food processor. Add the garlic, celery, onion, and pepper, and process until the vegetables are finely chopped, about 10 pulses.
- Into a large Dutch oven, scrape the vegetable mixture and add the parsley, salt pork, and 3 quarts of water, and turn the heat to medium. When the liquid boils, turn the heat to low, cover, and cook until the salt pork is tender and the vegetables are extremely soft, about 6 hours.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the salt pork to the food processor and process until the fat breaks down and the meat turns into a paste, about 30 seconds. Scrape the pork into a sieve set over the pot, then use a rubber spatula to press as much paste as possible through the sieve into the broth. Discard the solids that remain. To the broth, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock base, basil, oregano, and black pepper. Stir to combine, then cover and continue cooking over medium-low heat for 2 hours.
- Thinly slice the remaining carrots crosswise and add them to the minestrone along with 4 cups of water. Turn the heat to medium-high. When the liquid boils, add the green beans and peas, then turn the heat to medium, partially cover, and cook until the carrots, beans, and peas are soft, about 30 minutes. Skim and discard any fat from the surface of the broth, and season to taste with salt and more black pepper if desired.
- Make the pesto: Using a mini food processor or mortar and pestle, blend the basil, parsley, Parmigiano, pecorino, olive oil, and pine nuts until smooth. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, dollop each with the pesto, and sprinkle with additional Parmigiano and pecorino.