In Tuscany this is a popular soup that is often served in the olive harvesting season so that the emerald green, grassy and fruity new olive oil can be drizzled liberally over the soup and on toasted bread. When making this soup, try to find the best tasting olive oil that you can.
I love a good Italian Bean and Pasta dish – either soup or pasta with a beany “ragu”. This has to be my favourite so far. It is a dish that could pass for either a soup or pasta course. Rich and delicious, it is definitely a Winter dish.
The key to this dish is the soffritto—a mix of aromatic vegetables, finely chopped, and slowly cooked. It takes some time – about 20 mins – to sweat down the vegetables until they are completely softened before letting them take on any colour. You’ll be surprised by how much richness it adds to the dish.
What is a Minestra? Minestra predates zuppa (another type of Italian soup) by a few centuries. Derived from the Latin ministrare, meaning to administer, the word reflects how minestra was served from a large bowl or pot by the figurehead in the household. Minestra was traditionally the principal – and often the only – dish served in a meal.
Today it is a rather umbrella term referring to a first course of vegetables, legumes, pasta or rice cooked in a stock. Minestrone is one of many minestra soups. Regional variations abound but a minestrone always includes a vegetable that will thicken the soup, such as fresh or dried beans, potatoes or pumpkin. It must also include pasta or rice. Our soup today is a type of Minestrone (Minestrone di Fagioli or Minestrone di Pasta e Fagioli), one that does not include a large variety of vegetables. You will find similar soups under many different names as your browse the internet.