A comforting, delicious minestrone soup that’s easy to throw together right before dinner or leave simmering on the stove all afternoon. The perfect healthy, cold-weather meal!
California’s doing a happy dance right now…We’re finally getting some rain! El Nino has arrived in all its glory and we are on track to get about two inches before the week is over. Two inches! I know this is chump change to all of my cold weather climate folks out there, but if you know or have experienced the severe drought that California has been going through these past few years, well, the idea of two inches of rain has become completely foreign to us.
I’m sure it will only be a matter of minutes before everyone forgets how they ever drove or even functioned as a human being in somewhat foul, wet weather. I think I’ll just stay holed up in my cozy little duplex with my PJ pants and furry slippers on until the storm passes. [Realistically, I will have to face the crazy people on the roads at least two times a day on the way to and from work, and will still have to look presentable in “business” clothes, but I’m practicing the power of visualization here so hopefully one day this won’t have to be the case…Thanks for playing along.]
What I do know is that a pot of this Warming Minestrone Soup will be appearing on the reg on our stove for the foreseeable future (along with this Caramelized Leek & Parsnip Soup or my Dad’s Sweet’n’Spicy Chili.) I’ve already made this minestrone twice in the last two weeks and that’s saying a lot since I’m the gal that always wants to try something new and rarely repeats dinner recipes, especially in such a short time frame. I just can’t get enough of this comforting bowl of goodness.
I’ve been making Minestrone Soup in some form or another since college. As soon as my dad gave me a basic framework of the building blocks involved, I’ve taken it and run with it. To be honest, rather than sticking to a regular recipe, I usually just pull out whatever I have in my refrigerator at the time or grab whatever looks best at the grocery store and throw it in to my trusty Dutch oven.
But, because I know many of you, my peeps, love having a solid recipe to guide you on your way to deliciousness, I’ve toned down my erratic tendencies and honed in on what I think are THE BEST ingredients to feature in a perfect Minestrone Soup.
The standard Minestrone Soup building blocks are as follows:
- Starting out with a nice base of carrots, celery, onion and garlic (this, in fact, is how I start out almost every single one of my soup recipes.)
- Some diced, canned tomatoes (easy peezy!)
- Some sort of bean
- Some sort of hearty Italian meat (I think this is really important since I am an Italian meat lover, but if you want to keep it vegetarian by all means leave this out!)
- Chicken or vegetable broth (again, non-veg versus veg versions)
For this, my new “go-to” recipe, I’ve included a few tweaks that I’ve discovered that will take this recipe from “just your average minestrone soup” to this amazing, CaliGirl Cooking version of “Warming Minestrone Soup.”
- Sneak in a little sherry (this gives the soup a delicious savory acidity)
- Use hard salami (diced) as the Italian meat (this adds an extra savory saltiness or “umami” to the dish)
Now, you can follow this exact recipe in which case I can guarantee that you will not want to turn to any other minestrone soup recipe ever in your lifetime, OR you can use this as a template for your very own version (and I promise I won’t be mad.) I’m all about adapting to one’s specific tastes and dietary preferences, after all!
And P.S., I highly recommend serving this Warming Minestrone Soup with some cheesy bread (I took some delicious multigrain bread from Whole Foods, sliced it thick, topped it with whatever cheese we had in the refrigerator, and popped it under the broiler for about 5 minutes) AND with a light, smooth Pinot Noir or even a heavier Cabernet Sauvignon (this is where the salami helps out a bit!) Also, if you’re a cheese fiend like me, of course you need to sprinkle some grated Parmesan on top of the soup itself.
Are we ready to cozy up yet? I think I have to put a big pot of this on the stove ASAP and then share it with all of my closest friends. See you in a few?
Warming Minestrone Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ of a white onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 carrots diced
- 2 celery stalks diced
- 1/3 cup diced hard salami
- 1 14.5-ounce can “No Salt Added” diced tomatoes
- 1 32-ounce carton chicken broth
- 1 15-ounce can Great Northern or kidney beans
- 2 cups shredded kale
- ¼ cup sherry
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 cup uncooked mini tortellini
- 1 Parmesan rind
- Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, celery and carrot. Saute, stirring occasionally, until onion starts to become translucent and carrots and celery begin to soften.
- Add salami, tomatoes, chicken broth and Parmesan rind (if using.) Bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and add kale, beans, tortellini (if using) and sherry. Continue to simmer for at least 15 minutes or up to a few hours. Season with salt and pepper as necessary.