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      RECIPE TITLE "MINESTRONE" from The Gourmet Cookbook with DVD: More than 1,000 Recipes, over 60 Years in the Making

    yields Serves 6 to 8 as a main course (makes about 14 cups) difficulty moderate
    timeActive time: 1 hour. Start to finish : 2 3/4 hours plus soaking time for beans (and additional time if making stock)

    Real minestrone, with pancetta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and kale, is one of the best vegetable soups on the
    planet. The secret is the kale, which grounds the soup and gives it a sturdy underpinning. If you omit it, you
    will have a perfectly nice vegetable soup, but it won't be minestrone. Note thatthere's no need to add pasta to
    stretch the soup.

    We're particularly partial to the lacinato variety of kale (see Glossary). Be aware that lacinato has more aliases
    than a gangster on the lam. It can be called Tuscan kale, cavolo nero ('black cabbage'), black kale, or dinosaur
    kale. Its flavor is as deep as the color of its green-black leaves, with a sweetness reminiscent of artichokes.


    1/2 pound (1 1/4 cups) dried white beans, such as great northern, picked over and rinsed
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 pound boiling potatoes
    1/3 cup olive oil
    1/4 pound pancetta or lean bacon (4 slices), chopped
    1 large onion, chopped
    1 large carrot, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    1 celery rib, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    2 zucchini (1 pound total), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    1/4 pound green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    4 cups shredded green cabbage, preferably savoy (3/4 pound)
    1/2 pound kale, stems and tough center ribs discarded and leaves chopped (6 cups)
    1 (28- to 32-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained well and coarsely chopped
    4 1/2 cups (36 ounces) chicken stock or store-bought lowsodium broth
    Freshly ground black pepper
    accompaniment : 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 2 ounces)

    Soak beans in cold water to cover by 2 inches, refrigerated, for at least 8 hours (or see page 267 for
    quick-soaking procedure); drain.

    Transfer beans to a 3-quart heavy saucepan, add cold water to cover by 2 inches, and bring to a boil.

    Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, adding more water if necessary to keep beans barely covered, until
    ten minutes. Add salt and simmer for 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and let beans stand, uncovered.

    Peel potatoes and cut into I-inch dice; put in a bowl of cold water.

    Heat oil in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat. Add pancetta and cook, stirring, until crisp and
    pale golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add carrot, celery,
    and garlic and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes. Drain potatoes well, add to pot, along with zucchini and green
    beans, and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add cabbage and kale and cook, stirring, until cabbage is wilted,
    about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and stock and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour.

    Drain beans, reserving liquid. Puree half of beans with 1 cup reserved liquid in a blender or food processor
    (use caution). Stir into soup, along with remaining drained beans and reserved liquid. Simmer soup, uncovered,
    for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
    Serve soup with cheese.

    c o o k ' s n o t e
    The soup can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool completely, uncovered, then refrigerate, covered. Thin
    with water, if desired, when reheating.

    HOT! We recommend:

    The Gourmet Cookbook with DVD The Gourmet Cookbook with DVD New version with DVD included! This new edition of The Gourmet Cookbook includes a 45-minute DVD featuring Ruth Reichl's favorite recipes and cooking techniques. For beginners and seasoned cooks alike, The Gourmet Cookbook is an eloquent, essential companion in the kitchen - one that will take its place among the classic cookbooks of our generation. Under the discerning eye of the celebrated authority Ruth Reichl, the editors of America's premier cooking magazine sifted through more than 60,000 recipes published over the past six decades. Testing, tasting, and cross-testing to ensure that every cook achieves the same superb results, they selected more than 1000 recipes. The Gourmet Cookbook is encyclopedic but eminently accessible. With it, cooks can go back to the days when Beef Wellington ruled the table or prepare something as contemporary as Crispy Artichoke Flowers with Salsa Verde. Those in a hurry who want simple dinners with flavor and flair will find hundreds of possibilities, including Seared Salmon with Balsamic Glaze and Skirt Steak Fajitas with Lime and Black Pepper. At the same time, The Gourmet Cookbook is the perfect volume for entertaining, full of adventurous recipes for special occasions: Blini with Three Caviars, Fragrant Crispy Duck, and Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake. Throughout the book you'll find hundreds of valuable tips from Gourmet's eight test kitchens. Illustrated instructions explain everything from how to cut up a chicken to how to shuck an oyster.


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