It’s 20 below and the only thing that seems to sustain me through these long, dark, frigid days of winter is a warm, nourishing soup. While broths and thin soups serve a purpose – as an appetizer or beginning to a meal – nothing truly satisfies like a dense, full-bodied soup overflowing with flavorful ingredients: herbs, vegetables and beans.
When prepared properly, a good soup fulfills not only the sense, but also the body. A homemade stock prepared from bones and aromatic vegetables provides trace minerals as well as glucosamine chondroitin, while squash and Swiss chard provide a hefty dose of vitamins – particularly vitamin A. Moreover, this winter minestrone provides a healthy dose of wholesome fats: aromatic vegetables are gently fried in pasture-raised lard which is a potent source of vitamin D which is a particularly important nutrient for the dark days of winter while the soup is served with a dose of fruity, unrefined olive oil at the very end providing antioxidants and vitamin E.
By February 24, 2010Published:
- Yield: Approximately 8 to 12 Servings
- Prep: 2 hrs 0 min
- Cook: 24 hours (soaking) mins
- Ready In: 2 hrs 24 mins
Overflowing with vegetables and brimming with nourishing, wholesome fats, this winter minestrone makes for a nourishing, nutrient-dense supper during the darkest days of the year.
- 1 cup dried cannellini beans (rinsed and picked over)
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 cup dried brown rice macaroni noodles (see note)
- 1/4 cup lard, bacon fat or ghee
- 1 yellow onion (finely chopped)
- 3 garlic cloves (minced)
- 3 carrots (chopped)
- 3 stalks celery (chopped)
- 2 tbsp dried basil
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 small butternut squash Peeled, seeded and cubed
- 2 quarts homemade roast chicken stock or homemade beef stock
- 1 cup pureed or crushed tomatoes
- 1 bunch Swiss chard (de-veined and sliced into 1/2 –inch strips)
- Unrefined sea salt (to taste)
- Unrefined extra virgin olive oil, Italian flat leaf parsley and parmesan cheese (to serve)
- The day before you plan to serve the soup, begin the soup by completely submerging cannellini beans in very warm water combined with 1 tablespoon cider vinegar.
- Cover the beans, water and vinegar and place them in a warm spot in your kitchen to soak for approximately twenty-four hours.
- After the beans have soaked for one day, drain them, rinse them and boil them in water until they’re tender and soft. After they’re thoroughly cooked and tender, about 60 to 90 minutes, remove them from heat drain them, rinse them and set aside.
- Boil the brown rice pasta until tender, but somewhat firm. Set aside to reserve.
- Heat lard, bacon fat or ghee in a heavy-bottomed pot over a medium-high flame until melted and sizzling.
- Add chopped onion and fry until fragrant and translucent.
- Add minced garlic, chopped carrots, chopped celery and cubed butternut squash frying with the onion until fragrant.
- Stir the dried basil and oregano into the mixture of vegetables.
- Pour two quarts homemade stock into the pot, taking care to scrape the pot with a metal spatula to dislodge any flavorful bits of vegetables that may be stuck to its bottom.
- Stir in crushed or pureed tomatoes. In summertime, my family roasts and freezes cases of heirloom tomatoes and I suggest you do the same. Freezing retains more nutrients than canning, and avoids the risks associated with BPA, a plasticizer with endocrine-disrupting effects.
- Simmer the broth, pureed tomatoes and vegetables together for thirty minutes or so.
- Remove the minestrone soup from heat, stir in the cooked cannellini beans, cooked pasta and sliced Swiss chard.
- Generously season the soup with unrefined sea salt to taste.
- Cover the minestrone and allow it to sit, removed from heat, for approximately five to ten minutes which allows the flavors to meld and the Swiss chard to wilt slightly.
- Serve with chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, unrefined extra virgin olive oil and parmesan cheese.