The combination of chopped onions, celery and carrots, sautéed in olive oil (to make what Italians call soffritto) or in butter (to make what the French call mirepoix) is wonderful for adding flavor to sauces, soups, stews and stuffings. Around the holidays, I keep soffrito or mirepoix in the refrigerator so that I have the aromatic vegetables already prepared to make holiday cooking easier.
I generally use about 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of butter or extra virgin olive oil per cup of raw vegetables, adding a dash of salt and pepper. To the onions, I also add a splash of dry white wine. For this minestrone, I prefer olive oil to butter, but either will work. If you have soffritto already made, you can substitute 3 cups of it for the vegetables in this soup and reduce the olive oil to 1 to 2 tablespoons.
Fire Roasted Tomato Minestrone
This is a delicious, stew-like minestrone … flavorful and filling for the winter months. If you prefer a more brothy soup, you can thin this with a little vegetable or chicken stock.
• about 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil, divided
• 1 c. diced onions
• 1 c. diced celery
• 1 c. diced carrots
• 1/3 c. dry white or red wine
• 2 28-oz. cans diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes – or 1 can diced, 1 can crushed (do not drain)
• 1 15-oz. can cannellini beans (white kidney beans) or great northern beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 15-oz. can red kidney beans or black beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 T. dried oregano, crushed
• 1 T. paprika or smoked paprika
• 1 t. dried thyme, crushed
• 1/2 t. sea salt
• fresh grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, optional garnish
(1) If you do not have soffritto already prepared, start by sautéing vegetables in olive oil, one type at a time, using about 1 – 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper, per cup of vegetables. I like to add a splash of dry white wine to the onions. Cook briefly until crisp-tender.
(2) Add prepared vegetables, wine, about 1 T. of the remaining olive oil, tomatoes, beans, and spices to a large pot (6-8 qt). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the minestrone comes to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook at a low simmer, continuing to stir occasionally, for about 15 minutes. (So that the vegetables remain crisp-tender, don’t overcook.) Taste. Add more olive oil, wine, or seasonings if desired. Ladle into warm bowls to serve.
Serving suggestion: At the table, grate a little cheese over each bowl of minestrone – but not for vegans. Serve with warm bread and a glass of wine.