i did a bit of research regarding the etymology of the name minestrone... ask.com provided the following response:
"There are three Italian words corresponding to the English word 'soup': zuppa, which is used in the sense of tomato soup, or fish soup; minestra, which is used in the sense of a more substantial soup such as a vegetable soup, and also for 'dry' soups, namely pasta dishes; and minestrone, which means a very substantial or large soup, though the meaning has now come to be associated with this particular dish. "
feel free to experiment with whatever vegetables are in season...i mix it up with summer squashes, winter squashes, green beans, all types of onions, shallots, garlic, red potatoes, yukon potatoes...o.k...you get the idea...whatever you like. and, while your favorite hot italian sausage is perfect...i make mine with a vegan version that even the most committed meat eater will love...so feel free to experiment...and let me know your favorite combination....
2 pounds italian sausage (i use vegetarian sausage...my favorite brand is field roast try the chipolte...delicious!!)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 leeks, washed and diced (white and tender green parts)
2 carrots (chopped into bite sized pieces)
1 white onion, peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 28 oz can whole peeled san marzano tomatoes
1 pound sweet potatoes or yams, unpeeled, cut into bite sized pieces
2 quarts, excellent quality vegetable broth (if not homemade, i recommend the imagine brand)
2 cups cooked cannellini beans (even easier, use organic canned beans)
2 cups chopped swiss chard
1 cup freshly shelled peas (or organic frozen in a pinch)
8 oz. small shaped dried pasta...i use the shape ditalini which are little tubes which i like with the broth of the soup.
1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup italian parsley, minced
freshly cracked black pepper
wedge of parmigiano-reggiano for grating over soup
very green "big" extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
cut the sausage into bite sized pieces. add to a large stock pot and cook over medium heat until the sausage in browned on all sides...stir frequently while cooking to avoid burning. when sausage is cooked drain off the fat and return sausage to stockpot. add the olive oil, leeks, carrots, onion and garlic to stockpot and sauté until onions are translucent. strain the tomatoes (reserve the juice) and rough chop into bite sized pieces. add chopped tomatoes, tomato juice, sweet potatoes and vegetable broth to pot and simmer over low heat until potatoes are just beginning to soften. add the cannellini beans and cook for another ten minutes. add the swiss chard, peas, pasta, red pepper flakes and italian parsley to soup and cook for another 7-11 minutes until pasta is al dente (follow package directions but do not allow the pasta to overcook). season to taste with the grey salt and black pepper... serve in large soup bowls with a drizzle of the e.v.o.o....pass the parmigiano-reggiano and a grater to allow your guests to add as little (or as much!!!)cheese as they like.
so....minestrone is on my list for a few football playoff sundays...what are you cooking?
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