It's a raw, snowy dismal day today in Maine. Snow, ice & rain. When I came in from shoveling, I was reminded of warmer days and a delicious soup.
While vacationing in Sorrento we spent a week at the Albergho Lorelei Hotel located off the main Piazza, overlooking the Bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius. Within it's vine covered patio overlooking this breathtaking view, they serve their summer guests and visitors scrumptious meals..made to order.
One cooler afternoon after shopping all over Sorrento.. we returned back to the Lorelei exhausted, but not too hungry, as we had been sampling all the vendors we came across tempting treats. Not wanting a full course meal, I asked if they could make me some minestrone soup. They were more than obliging... a half an hour later I was served my soup. It was the best minestrone I've ever tasted.
I asked if the chef would share his recipe with me.. Marco agreed, though it took another hour for me to translate all that he was explaining to me. I make this soup often, sometimes as I recorded it.. and sometimes with my own twist.. either way, it's one of my favorite meals. So here's my recipe for Marco's Minestrone
3 TBLS Good olive oil
4 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Onion, chopped
1 Can of kidney beans or 1 cup dried beans
1 Small can black olives, chopped
1 Can peeled and crushed tomatoes, or 4 large tomatoes, diced
5 Cups beef stock
1 Cup water
2 Oz dry white wine
1 TBLS chopped parsley, thyme, basil or your herb of choice
4 Carrots diced
2 Small zucchini, chopped
1/2 Cup chopped swiss chard
1/2 Cup chopped cabbage or fresh kale
1/4 Cup fresh spinach, torn
1/2 cup fresh green beans sliced
1 1/2 Cup diced celery
3 Boiled potatoes, diced
1 Cup ditilani pasta or small pasta shells
Soak the kidney beans overnight. Drain and cover with water and cook in a covered pot for about an hour or until the beans are tender. Drain beans. ( If using canned beans.. rinse well under warm water & reserve) Likewise, cook in salted water the pasta of choice al dente and then your potatoes. Once cooked, put the beans, potatoes and pasta aside in a warm place until needed.
When you are ready to proceed, put into a large skillet 3 TBLS olive oil & to this gently sautee the onions, minced garlic, cabbage,green beans, celery, swiss chard, herbs, and carrots. Cover the skillet and let the vegetables bubble quietly in the oil for 5 minutes or until carrots become slightly tender. Add 2 oz dry white wine, olives, spinach, fresh kale and continue to cook 5 minutes more.
Now into a large stockpot, add your beef stock, water, crushed tomatoes, the cooked vegetables and bring to a slow simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes. Now add in your reserved cooked beans, diced potatoes and pasta of choice. and simmer another 30 minutes or so, until all vegetables are tender. Season to taste with sea salt & ground pepper... serve very hot with sprinkled Pecorina or parmesean cheese and crusty garlic bread. Mangia & enjoy!
* Sometimes I additionally add some cubed cooked chicken to my sauteeing vegetables. While waiting for this wonderful soup to cook.. pour yourself a nice cold birra and dream of blue blue seas, the warmth of the sun, lounging under a bougainvilla vined pergola