Melis Family Minestrone
From the kitchen of The Blue Zones Solution.
- ½ cup dried peeled fava beans
- ½ cup dried cranberry beans
- 1/3 cup dried chickpeas
- 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (about 2/3 cup)
- 2 medium celery stalks, chopped (about ½ cup)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes ( about 3 ½ cups)
- 3 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 ½ cups)
- 1 ½ cups chopped fennel
- ¼ cup loosely packed fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2/3 cup of Sardinian fregula, isreal couscous, or acini si pepe pasta
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup finely grated pecorino Romano (about 2 ounces)
- Soak fava beans, cranberry beans, and chickpeas in a large bowl of water for at least 8 hours or up to 16 hours (that is, overnight). Drain in a colander set in the sink, Rinse well.
- Warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven set over medium-heat, Add the onion, carrots, and celery; cook, stirring often, until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds.
- Stir in the tomatoes, potatoes, fennel, parsley,and basil, as well as the drained beans and chickpeas. Add enough water (6 to 8 cups) so that everything is submerged by 1 inch.
- Raise the heat to high and bring to a full boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly, uncovered, until beans are tender, adding more water as necessary if mixture gets too thick, about 1 ½ hours.
- Stir in the pasta, salt, and pepper, Add up to 2 cups of water if the soup seems too dry. Continue simmering, uncovered, until pasta is tender, about 10 minutes.
- Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into each of four serving bowls. Divide the soup among them and top each with 1 tablespoon grated cheese.
- TIP: You can vary the beans in the minestrone: pinto beans make a very good substitute for the cranberry beans; great northern beans or cannellini beans, for the favas.
- TIP: Use the stalks and fronds that come off the fennel bulb for the most intense flavor. No feathery fronds on the bulb? Add a teaspoon of fennel seeds to the aromatic vegetables you saute to begin the dish.
- TIP: Add other fresh vegetables from garden or market, such as zucchini, cabbage, green beans, and cauliflower or broccoli florets.
- TIP: Want a stronger tomato taste? Stir in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste.