Classic Minestrone

by Emily Kemme
classic minestrone

There’s nothing quite so nice as a classic minestrone soup to ease into fall. It’s an admission, perhaps made grudgingly, that the days have less sunlight, that you need something warm to handle the chill at night, that soup is a comforting way to say farewell to summer. Minestrone is a compromise. It’s heavy on fresh, summery veggies like zucchini and tomatoes but also opens the door to sweaters and fuzzy socks. And that’s just fine, particularly if you make enough — like this recipe does — to save some in the freezer to pull out on a snowy day when there aren’t any fresh-from-the-garden zucchinis to be had.

There’s a lot of chopping in this recipe, but then it’s pretty much hands off until it’s time to eat! Don’t worry about thickening the broth; the combination of potatoes and melting parmesan rind will do that for you.

Classic Minestrone Recipe

classic minestrone

There is a lot of prep work on the front end of this recipe — that means chopping — but once the vegetables are in the pot, let them simmer away to create a beautiful Italian soup.

1/2 lb center cut bacon, diced

1/2 cup good quality olive oil

2 onions, diced

2 large carrots, quartered and cut into 1/2 inch dice

2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2 inch dice

6 garlic cloves, papery skins removed, minced

4 zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/2 inch dice

1/2 lb fresh green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 lb new white potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

8 cups slivered green cabbage

1 lb kale, rinsed, dried, middle ribs discarded and chopped

2 – 28 oz cans fire-roasted, diced tomatoes

4 cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed

11 cups chicken broth (low salt)

Parmesan rind

In large Dutch oven or heavy pot warm olive oil. When shimmering, render bacon, stirring until crisp and edges are beginning to curl. Add onion and cook until softened but not browned. Add carrots, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add zucchini, green beans and potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add cabbage and kale and cook until cabbage is wilted and kale is beginning to soften. Add tomatoes, Great Northern beans, broth and Parmesan rind, stirring to incorporate all vegetables. Simmer the soup covered for one hour. Remove rind before serving.

classic minestrone

Minestrone is the perfect soup to use up the last of your garden vegetables. It’s also a great way to bid farewell to summer and hello to sweater weather.

Wine expert Stephanie Davis said she could tell Feeding the Famished readers to open up a rustic, Italian red wine to pair with this Classic Minestrone, but she refused.

“That would be so frighteningly boring,” she said. “It’s October! Tis the season for scary ghouls, ghosts and Satan’s Whiskers cocktails,” Steph explained. Did I ever mention Steph has fiery red hair? Worth thinking on, right?

Anyway. Steph is going to have us shake up a serious cocktail with a not-so-serious name. She told me this with a devilish smile, so what choice did I have to say no?

Satan’s Whiskers is a cocktail she pulled from Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All by Brad Thomas Parsons. This cocktail contains vermouth, and don’t use that old, opened bottle of vermouth hanging around your bar cabinet or fridge, cautions Davis. Just like wine, vermouth has a narrow drinking window once opened. Use it within 2-4 weeks depending on the alcohol content and delicacy of the aromatics.

Satan’s Whiskers

1/2 oz gin

1/2 oz sweet vermouth

1/2 oz dry vermouth

1/2 oz freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 oz Grand Marnier

3 dashes orange bitters

Garnish with an orange twist.

Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Add garnish and feel the evil.

Award-winning author Emily Kemme writes about human nature, illuminating the everyday in a way that highlights its brilliance. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished,, or on Twitter @EmFeedsYou . Life inspired. Vodka tempered.

Interested in reading Emily’s new award-winning novel, Drinking the Knock Water: A New Age Pilgrimage? Find it on Amazon and in Indie bookstores.

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