The older I become, the less that I use written recipes in my cooking.
To my mother, I give credit. To my nonna, I give credit. Neither of them ever used written recipes to guide them in their kitchens. They were fabulous cooks and just knew in their bones . . . intuitively . . . how to prepare delicious foods from their simple taste sensibilities as well as their experience and knowledge from watching their own mothers and nonnas that preceded them.
It has taken me years to get to this point.
I don’t want to ever be or sound arrogant or proud in my cucina, but I hope to somehow and in some way arrive to the point of my talented, yet humble Italian ancestors in their cooking abilities . There’s no guarantee for me to know if I have ever reached that point other than to observe and experience the pleasure of my family and guests as they eat and feel satisfaction in their tummies after any of the meals that I have prepared for them.
I have been making Italian minestrone soup for years. I’ve even lost the original recipe that I created. But I know the recipe . . . in my heart and long-term memory . . . just like my mother and my Nonna.
The truth is, every Italian minestrone soup recipe that you read will have a similar base of fresh vegetables, tomatoes, and herbs that simmer in a delicious broth!
I used my Instant Pot for this batch of soup and am providing you ‘step-by-step’ photo instructions.
First, turn on the pot to ‘sauté’ and add about 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and about ¼ cup of butter (we like a richer flavor and most Northern Italians cook with butter combined with olive oil).
Pour the olive oil into the pot:
Add the chopped onions and minced garlic:
Add the carrots:
Add the celery:
Add 4 – 8 oz. of chopped pancetta:
Gently stir all of these ingredients and sauté for about 3 – 5 minutes.
Enjoy the wonderful aroma!
Then turn the Instant Pot on “Keep Warm” and turn heat setting to “Less”.
Add the chopped zucchini:
Add the green beans:
Add the potatoes:
Add the slivers of spinach:
Add the cabbage:
Add the tomatoes:
Add 1 bunch of Italian parsley, stems removed and chopped:
Add the cannellini, garbanzo and kidney beans:
Add a large chunk of Parmiggano cheese, then fill up the Instant Pot with chicken or vegetable broth, about an 2 inches below the top.
Place the lid on the Instant Pot, press the button ‘soup’ and let the pot do it’s thing for 30 minutes minimum, up to an hour. Carefully open the lid so that the steam releases ‘away’ from your face so that you don’t get burned. Add the pasta into the hot soup and allow it to cook with the lid off until the pasta is ‘al dente’.
When serving, garnish with Italian parsley and pass freshly-grated Parmiggiana cheese around for your guests to help themselves and top their bowls of this delicious soup.
Every now and then one of you will write to me and tell me about the results and experiences of one of my recipes in your lives and the tummies of others that you serve with love.
This week, Chris wrote to me after preparing this Minestrone Soup for 80, yes you read that correctly, 80 people at her church dinner and get-together. After family, my church friends would be my greatest honor to cook or bake for. Chris wrote to me afterwards and said,
I need to make about 80 servings, so I’ll multiply by 8 or so to fill my bathtub.., I am half Italian myself, and love to cook… I have a recipe I have used for years, but yours sounded too good not to make! Thank you! I’ll let you know how it goes – it will be made on Wednesday for a Thursday Lenten supper.”
and after her church’s Lenten supper, Chris wrote back and said,
“Obviously, we had some soup left over, as we had prepared two soups (both 80 servings worth), but your minestrone was VERY well received, and I am still getting compliments on it. Thank you for your posts with those great recipes! This one has been ‘saved’, and I have your blog in my favorites…”
What an honor! I am glad that you made so many parishioners happy in their tummies, Chris!
- ½ cup olive oil plus ½ stick (4 oz.) high quality butter (which Northern Italians cook with alongside olive oil for a more rich, deeper flavor)
- 4 - 5 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 onions (preferably sweet, such as Vidialia), diced
- 4 - 8 oz. diced pancetta (I use 8 oz.)
- 4 carrots, cleaned and diced/sliced
- 3 stalks celery plus leaves, cleaned and diced/sliced to 1½ cups total, including the flavor-filled leaves
- 1 - 2 cups fresh green beans, cut up into ½" pieces
- 2 - 3 cans (14.5 oz) imported Italian diced tomatoes (San Marzano's are the best)
- OR better yet, use the same amount of garden-fresh, home-grown tomatoes, if you have on hand
- 3 Idaho potatoes, cut into chunks about ¼" thick
- 2 zucchini, diced with skin left on
- 2-½ cups fresh spinach or swiss chard, chopped
- 2 cups fresh cabbage, chopped
- 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
- 1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
- 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed well
- 8 cups water or homemade vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 'bunch' of Italian parsley, stems removed and chopped (makes about 1 cup)
- 1 chunk of parmesan rind
- 1 Tbsp. freshly-diced sage
- freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups tubular (ditalini) pasta
- Optional - 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving
- Follow step-by-step photo instructions provided on blog post.