Minestrone is the most popular soup born in Italy. It is so associated with first courses that outside the republic, saying "Italian soup", of course, mean minestrone. Its base is broth, vegetables and legumes. Italians cook it with seasonal products, but, nevertheless, it is allowed to use frozen peas or beans.
Healthy ingredients are a very significant plus of dishes. Minestrone is not just soup. It is a symbol of Italian nutritional principles. Do you want to know how it appeared and how to cook a classic minestrone in your kitchen? Then welcome to the article.
Origin and options
Minestrone has a very ancient origin. Back in the Roman Empire, vegetable soup was prepared on the basis of onions, garlic, carrots, asparagus, lentils and mushrooms. Additional ingredients have been added over the centuries thanks to new advances. For example, potatoes and tomatoes became part of the dish when they “arrived” in Italy after the discovery of America in the 16th century.
Initially, the minestrone was a modest soup, which was prepared mainly from the remnants of second courses or from the cheapest vegetables. It was everyday food, not an option for a wedding or festive table.
The current lack of a strict soup recipe is explained by the fact that products for it were never prepared in advance. In other words, if a person bought chicken in order to then fry and eat it, then the minestrone acted differently. The components that were in the house were used.
Between the XVII and XVIII centuries, Italian chefs glorified the first dish outside the republic. But even today, soup is perceived as a tribute to the peasant tradition.
Its name literally translates as "what is served" (as a meal). The first application of the term "Minestrone" to vegetable soup dates from the 18th-19th centuries.
The recipe depends on the region of preparation. Minestrone classic (Minestrone classico) is rather a relative concept, since there is no consensus among the culinary experts on its composition. But the main components are strictly regulated: broth, beans, onions, celery, carrots and tomatoes. Although conservatives advocate the absence of "non-European" vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes) in the dish.
Some prefer to cook minestrone on water, others choose meat broths. Someone supplements it with pasta, someone prefers rice. Its consistency ranges from thick and dense (close to stew) to very thin. For example, the classic version contains more broth than the Minestrone in Genoese (Minestrone alla genovese). The composition of the latter also includes Pesto sauce.
In fact, recently the word minestrone has become synonymous with the phrase "mix everything." But, of course, modern cooks do not use leftover food from previous meals, but pre-acquire fresh vegetables, planning to make soup. Today, it is not eaten as a main course, but as a light first, opening a hearty meal.
A classic minestrone recipe is present in every region of Italy. But there are no significant differences. Only a few ingredients change. We suggest you cook the most popular winter version of the dish in the republic. Given the characteristics of our climate, domestic housewives are better off creating their delicacy in the second half of summer.
So, we need:
- Water - 700 ml;
- Cauliflower - 400 g;
- Tomatoes - 350 g;
- Potato - 330 g;
- Pumpkin - 250 g;
- Fresh beans - 200 g;
- Fresh or frozen green peas - 200 g;
- Leek - 150 g;
- Smoked pancetta - 110 g;
- Zucchini - 100 g;
- Onion - 80 g;
- Carrots - 80 g;
- Celery - 60 g;
- Olive oil - 60 g;
- Rosemary - 6 g;
- Parsley - 5 g;
- Ground black pepper - 2 g;
- Garlic - 1 clove;
- Bay leaf - 2 pcs.;
- Salt and nutmeg to taste.
Before starting the process, wash and dry all the vegetables. Rosemary and a sprig of laurel - tightly knit with kitchen thread so that during cooking the leaves of herbs do not appear in the soup
How to cook
First, peel the pumpkin, remove the seeds and fibrous pulp with a spoon. Dice pumpkin and zucchini. If fresh beans are in pods, then we extract beans from them.
Cauliflower is divided into inflorescences. We cut the white part of the leek into thin rings, and the pancetta into cubes.
We also turn the peeled potatoes and tomatoes with the peel and stem removed into cubes. Peel carrots, celery and onions, cut as small as possible, parsley - large.
Now all the ingredients are prepared, and you can proceed to the main stage. In a pan with non-stick coating and high sides, fry carrots, onions and celery in olive oil for 7-8 minutes. Avoid burning vegetables to the bottom of the tank.
Add crushed garlic and pancetta without turning off the heat. The latter serves to flavor the soup. We also put in a pan a bunch of herbs. The leek rings, together with a small amount of water (about 50 ml), are mixed with the resulting mass and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes.
The following ingredients that will go in the classic minestrone are pumpkin and beans. Cook the dish over moderate heat for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Potato, cauliflower, zucchini, nutmeg, salt and pepper follow. Cook the resulting vegetable mixture for about 5-6 minutes. Pour green peas and tomatoes into the pan, fill with the remaining water and cover with a lid. Cook the minestrone on moderate heat for about 30 minutes, remove the garlic and do not remove from the heat for another 15 minutes.
A few seconds before removing the container from the stove, add parsley. We remove the bunch of herbs and mix thoroughly so that the vegetables are saturated with each other's aromas.
If you prefer more liquid soups, then add a little boiled water to it. Your minestrone according to the classic recipe is ready! In Italy, before serving, the soup is sprayed with olive oil or sprinkled with grated Parmesan.
Minestrone is stored in the refrigerator in a container with a tight-fitting lid for no more than 3 days. Although, like many Italian soups, it acquires the most intense taste by the second day. If desired, you can extend its shelf life by freezing.
How to change a recipe
Minestrone is a very versatile dish. The proposed vegetables are quite possible to replace with those that you prefer. Or, conversely, add something else. For example, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, mushrooms. And the list goes on and on. But, it must be emphasized that Italian cooks never put ruccola and brussels sprouts in soupsince they interrupt the taste of other vegetables. Chicory and artichokes are also illegal. Their presence will only betray unnecessary bitterness.
Those who prefer soups with pasta or rice should add the necessary component in the cooking process. In this case, until the minestrone is ready, there should be as much time as is required for the preparation of the selected ingredient.
Minestrone with chicken differs from the classics only in the presence of chicken breast cubes added during cooking. The Genoese version of the soup is enriched with Pesto sauce in the final process.
Possible cooking errors
Minestrone is a multi-component soup that leaves room for creativity. Modern stores are filled with a huge variety of products all year round. Illiterate selection and subsequent processing of components are the main causes of errors in the preparation of vegetable soup.
To prevent your dish from becoming an unsightly, tasteless slurry, remember that:
- Do not use frozen vegetables. Yes, it is very convenient and greatly reduces cooking time. But they change the taste of the soup for the worse. An exception may be only green peas. The use of legumes in the form of canned food is also strictly prohibited.
- It is not allowed to add broth cubes in the minestrone. The aroma of the first dish with a bouquet of vegetables does not require additional chemistry. The only acceptable flavor enhancers are herbs (rosemary, sage, laurel, thyme, parsley, basil, celery leaves), as well as salt and black pepper. The color of the broth is adjusted by products. For example, a decoction of unpeeled onions has a golden hue, tomatoes - give a rich red color
- Do not limit the variety of components. In Italy, as a rule, the maximum amount of vegetables for the season is used. In autumn, in addition to standard ingredients, pumpkin, cabbage, broccoli are used. Some cooks even add mushrooms.
- The size of the chopped vegetables also matters. Heavily chopped fruits turn minestrone into a puree mass. On the contrary, large pieces are not completely saturated with the overall aroma of the soup. If beans are put, then when cutting the remaining vegetables, they are guided by their size. If not, cut everything into cubes with a side of 1.5 cm.
- The taste of the dish is always enriched with additional components.. These include: pasta from hard varieties, egg noodles, rice, pearl barley, fried bread or croutons, grated with garlic.
Calorie content and benefits
Minestrone is considered one of the most healthy soups. It is included in the diet menu for weight loss, since the calorie content of a classic dish is extremely low and is about 39 kcal per 100 g.
Nutritional value is distributed as follows:
- Proteins - 1.7 g;
- Fats - 1.3 g;
- Carbohydrates - 5.4 g.
Low salt soup is great for controlling your blood pressure. Rich in potassium, it helps to diversify the composition of the diet for people suffering from hypertension.
The high fiber content is helpful in treating constipation. This fact also contributes to a long-lasting feeling of satiety.
The low glycemic index of minestrone positively affects the metabolism and makes the soup useful for the nutrition of patients with diabetes.
Now you know everything about the most popular, healthy and simply delicious Italian soup. Live with humor, travel spontaneously and remember: "There is nothing better in the world than cooking a minestrone in the summer!"