Minestrone is like chicken soup, in that if you ask 10 cooks how to make it, you will get 10 different recipes. But it does have a few common ingredients: beans, onions, celery, carrots, rice or pasta, vegetable stock, and fresh or canned tomatoes. It can be, but is not usually, made with meat and/or meat-based stock like chicken stock.
Our version of minestrone is vegetarian and uses many of the vegetables and herbs we grow on our farm, even veggies not associated with Italian cuisine. This recipe uses kina savoy stalks and leaves in place of celery. Kina savoy, also known as yukina savoy, is an Asian cooking green from the cabbage family but whose stalks look (and cook) a lot like celery. It’s mild in flavor but not as mild as celery and has hints of mustard and black pepper so adds to the overall flavor of the soup than if you used celery instead.
Just before serving, we finish the soup with fresh mizuna greens, which are peppery but not as peppery as arugula. Mizuna is also known as Asian Mustard. Its tender leaves can be used to impart a mild mustard flavor to soups, salads, sandwiches, and stir-fries.
In this recipe we use mizuna, however, you can easily replace the mizuna with any salad or cooking green of your choice. As a matter of fact, a fun and interactive soup course would be to have several types of greens available that your diners or guests may choose from.
Note: There is one thing that we should add and that is we cook our pasta separately from the soup. If you’re like us, when we make soup we usually make it with the intention of having lots of leftovers. Pasta, or macaroni in this example, will break down in a soup over time, especially if it is reheated. As you will see in our preparation we cook the macaroni to al dente, which means fully cooked but still has a little “bite” to it. The macaroni can be cooked ahead of time, cooled, then store it in the fridge until it’s needed, then added a couple of minutes before we finish the soup with mizuna. This way the pasta retains its shape when served, otherwise you will have a soup with lots of little pieces of what was macaroni.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 10 1 cup servings
- 1 bunch of mizuna greens with stems
- The leaves may remain whole but chop the stems into bite-size lengths
- About 4 cups loosely packed
- 1 can of cooked organic white kidney beans
- You may also use red kidney beans, cannellini beans, garbanzo beans, great northern beans.
- You may use rice or another grain like farro instead but make sure the overall cooking time for that grain is less than 30 minutes if you want to cook it in the soup, or cook it separately and add it just before serving.
- 1 cup yellow onion medium dice
- 1 cup carrots medium dice
- 1 cup fennel, bulb and stems medium dice
- 1 yellow squash, medium dice
- Zucchini squash is also great in this soup
- 2 cups of kina savoy, stalk medium dice, leaves chopped
- 1 cup dried macaroni pasta
- 3 cups stewed tomatoes, medium dice if not already
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 2 sprigs of fresh basil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 cups of water or stock (for thinner soup add more water)
- 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Cook macaroni separately using instructions from the producer; cool and set aside.
- Wash and spin dry the mizuna; cut white stems into bite size lengths (about 1 1/2 inches); set aside.
- Peel and medium dice the onions; set aside.
- Wash, pat dry and medium dice the kina savoy stalks and chop the leaves; set aside.
- Wash and medium dice the fennel, carrots, and yellow squash; set aside.
- Peel and dice the garlic; set aside.
- Heat a large soup pot on a stovetop burner set to medium-high, add the oil, wait 1 minute to heat up the oil, add the onions, cook 1 minute, add the garlic, cook 1 minute, stir occasionally throughout this step.
- Add the kina savoy, carrots, fennel, and squash, cook for 5 minutes, stir occasionally.
- Add the tomatoes, water, and dried herbs, cook for 15 minutes, stir occasionally.
- When the veggies in the soup are at your desired doneness (i.e. soft/tender or still a little crunchy) the soup is done.
- If you are only going to serve a portion of the soup and keep the rest for leftovers then ladle the portion you want to serve into a small soup pot on a medium heat burner.
- Quickly cool the rest of the soup before storing in the fridge.
- For the soup that you will serve immediately or later for smaller portions (see photo below):
- Reheat the amount of soup you want to serve in a small soup pot.
- Add about 1/2 cup of cooked macaroni per diner to the smaller soup pot, cook to warm up the macaroni (2-3 minutes).
- Add the mizuna leaves and stems, cook for 2 minutes.
- The minestrone with mizuna is ready!
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves.