Cary, NC — Here’s a recipe for a cold, icy day in Cary. It’s Minestrone, the classic Italian soup. You might already have everything you need in your pantry. And, because this is North Carolina, I’ve adapted the recipe to include everyone’s favorite food, bacon.
How to Make Minestrone, 1-2-3
1. —– Start the Soup —–
Start by frying some bacon in a soup pot. Two or three strips will be enough. The Italians use pancetta, an Italian type of bacon, which you can find at Harris Teeter if you want to give it a try. But American bacon works fine, because what you want is the fat to fry the onions and add some richness to the soup.
Canadian bacon does not work fine. Do not try to make Minestrone with Canadian bacon.
After the bacon is cooked, sauté diced onions, celery and carrots in the bacon fat for about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add a quart of chicken stock, a carton of diced tomatoes (about 12 oz) and a can of white beans (cannellini beans, northern beans or white kidney beans – all are pretty similar). I also peel a potato, dice it up into small pieces and add it to the soup to thicken it up. Chop the cooked bacon and throw that in, too.
Season with salt, pepper, oregano and bay leaf.
2. —– Cook for 20 minutes —–
Now, add about a cup of the smallest pasta in your pantry. I like to use ditalini, tiny tube-shaped pasta. The pasta grows in the soup. If you use bow ties, they will end up the size of a large moth. Who wants to eat a moth?
If you don’t have ditalini, use small elbow macaroni or tiny shells.
Some Minestrone recipes call for adding a leafy green at the same time you add the pasta. I add a couple of handfuls of chopped escarole when I can find it, or use a cup of frozen chopped spinach or kale.
Green beans another another classic addition to Minestrone. Chop them into small, bite-sized pieces and add to the soup.
3. —- Cook for another 10 minutes and turn it off —-
Let the soup sit for five minutes, then serve with grated parmesan cheese.
- 3 strips of bacon
- 1 diced onion
- 3 diced carrots
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 1 can or carton of diced tomatoes
- 1 can white beans
- 1 potato, peeled & diced
- 2 cups green beans, cut small
- 1-2 cups frozen spinach or kale; or fresh escarole
- 4 oz tiny pasta
- salt, pepper, bay leaf, oregano
- Parmesan cheese
Time to prep: 30 minutes
Time to cook: 30 minutes
Story by Hal Goodtree. Lead photo by Katrin Gilger.