RECIPE TITLE "COUNTRY VEGETABLE SOUP (Minestra Paesana)" recipe from
Italian Farmhouse Cookbook
"It is almost impossible to codify minestra, for it is to Italy what potage is to France - a basic, delicious vegetable soup that is composed of what is fresh and in season. This straightforward recipe, given to me by Ghiselda Bini, a cook and farmer in Tuscany, is simply prepared with just a handful of ingredients. She gets hers - except for the prosciutto - fresh from the ground. You can recreate this revivifying and delicious minestra easily and in very little time. Serve it piping hot or at room temperature - it is delicious either way. And if you prefer vegetables less cooked, simply reduce the cooking time. Make sure the richly flavored garnish, a tasty blend of diced vegetables and prosciutto, is served warm, for it is unappealing when cold. If serving the minestra the day after you make it, store it in the refrigerator and heat it at least slightly, as it loses some of its flavor when chilled. Serve this with Chianti Classico."
For the Soup
* 2 medium carrots, cut lengthwise into quarters, then crosswise into small chunks
* 8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
* 1 large bunch Swiss chard (about 2 pounds), leaves separated from stems, stems
* coarsely chopped, leaves thinly slivered
* 2 small zucchini, trimmed and cut lengthwise into quarters, then crosswise into small chunks
* Fine sea salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
For the Garnish
* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 small onion, diced
* 1 clove garlic, green germ removed, minced
* 2 small ribs celery, strings removed, diced
* 3 ounces 1/4-inch-thick slices prosciutto, rind removed, cut into tiny dice
1. Place the carrots, beans, chard stems and zucchini into a large pot and add water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until all the vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes. Add the card leaves and the salt; cook until the leaves are wilted and tender, about 35 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
2. While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the garnish. Place the oil, onion, garlic, celery and prosciutto in a medium-size skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender and completely translucent, about 20 minutes. Be vigilant, adjusting the heat so the vegetables don't brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. Serve the soup and the garnish hot or at room temperature. Either way, stir the garnish into the minestra just before serving.