Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

We’re still feasting on leftover food from our New Year’s beach weekend. Monday night we had the remains of our New Year’s Day dinner – my shrimp pesto pasta. Last night we used up the leftover deli meats in giant sandwiches. But we wanted something more. Since Tuesday is usually my night to cook, I decided to make minestrone.

My recipe is adapted from Rachael Ray’s minestra recipe. Minestra means “soup” in Italian. Minestrone means “big soup.” I call my soup minestrone because with the addition of all the vegetables and herbs, it becomes a much bigger soup than Rachael’s minestra. You could make it even bigger by adding pasta or rice — it’s a flexible recipe.

If cold weather is in your forecast, consider making a big pot of this. You can store the leftovers in the refrigerator or freeze some in 2-cup containers. Serve it with a big green salad and some garlic cheese bread, if you’re not having sandwiches.

minestrone soup recipe

minestrone leftovers ready for the fridge


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 small to medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
  • 1/8 pound pancetta or ham, sliced and chopped
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 pounds escarole, washed and coarsely chopped (2 medium bunches or 1 large bunch)
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans, cannellini or other white beans, drained
  • Optional – 1 cup chopped tomatoes, canned
  • 1 quart (4 cups) chicken broth
  • A few pinches ground nutmeg or fresh grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp fresh rosemary or ¼ tsp dried rosemary
  • Optional – 1 Tbsp or frozen ice cube of basil pesto
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for topping

In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, sauté onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, pancetta (or ham) in oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer.

Add the escarole and toss it with the vegetables until it wilts down a bit. Add beans, tomatoes (optional), broth, nutmeg, rosemary, pesto (optional), salt and pepper. Simmer over medium heat (or lower) for 15 minutes. Serve with grated cheese.

Adapted from Rachael Ray’s Minestra recipe.

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