La Minestra – Soup’s On!
By Cheryl Forberg, RD
La zuppa, il brodo, la minestra – there are lots of ways to say soup in Italian.
Il brodo is quite simply broth or bouillon. It is usually prepared from bones and trimmings of beef or poultry. It can also be used as the base for la zuppa or la minestra.
La zuppa originally meant a very specific preparation of broth or il brodo with pieces of bread in it. Inexpensive and filling, it used to be considered peasant fare, but has been elevated over time with the addition of other ingredients, sometimes a starchy vegetable such as beans, to thicken it.
La minestra is a broader term for soup that starts with a broth or stock and has vegetables and/or pasta (or rice) cooked in it. A classic example is Minestrone, which includes pasta or rice and numerous vegetables. It always includes a starchy thickening vegetable such as beans, legumes, potatoes or squash.
I’ve always been a soup fan and while I enjoy all of the above, I suppose most of my soups fall into the la minestra category as I tend to prepare soup to serve as a hearty main course.
Since there is no pasta or rice in today’s recipe, I guess it would be considered La Zuppa - Buon appetito! (Enjoy your meal!)
Italian Vegetable Soup with Fennel and White Beans
This hearty recipe is full-flavored even though it is quick and easy to make. For a heartier version, you can add a pound of cooked, crumbled Italian sausage or shredded roast chicken.
2 tablespoons Olive oil
1 medium Onion, chopped
1 medium Fennel Bulb, quartered, cored and julienned
½ cup Carrot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Melissa’s Chopped Garlic
½ cup Dry Wine (Red, White or Rose)
1 (14.5 ounce) can Diced Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
2 teaspoons Melissa’s Spice Grinders Italian Seasoning
½ teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
1 (8.8 ounce) pkg of Melissa’s Steamed Six Bean Medley (or Red Beans or White beans)
2 cups Vegetable or Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper to taste
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
In a 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and fennel and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes or until softened, but not browned. Add carrots and garlic and cook for 1 – 2 minutes.
Add wine and cook for 3 – 4 minutes or until mostly evaporated. Add tomatoes, Italian seasoning and chili flakes and simmer for 2 minutes or until heated through. Add beans and stir well.
Add warm stock and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Garnish with cheese, basil and additional chili flakes if desired. Serve hot.
Makes about 8 cups (2 quarts)