This minestrone is the genuine article, though I'm sure there are as many variations of minestrone as there are Italian cooks. This version was originally from the Italian mother of a friend from the distant past. I'm sure I've put my own twist on it in the intervening years, but I honestly don't remember what was original and what adjustments I may have made. I've cooked this so many times over the years so it's sure to have evolved. My suspicion is that the lambrusca instead of red wine is my personal twist.
1 cup cooked or 1/3 cup dried cannellini beans 1 cup fresh or 1/3 cup dried whole green peas 7 cups stock 2 medium carrots, sliced 1 stick celery, sliced 1 largish onion, chopped 8 tomatoes rough chopped or around 600g tomatoe puree optional 1/2 cup of any leafy green roughly chopped optional 1/2 chilli, finely chopped 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 cup uncooked macaroni optional and highly recommended 1 cup sweetish red wine (something like lambrusca is fabulous)
Warning: you will need a big pot.
For dried beans and peas, soak them overnight in the stock and then simmer for 1-2 hours with the celery, carrot and onion until the beans and peas are soft. For cooked beans and fresh peas, just simmer these together with the stock, celery, carrot and onion for 40 minutes. Add the tomato, leafy greens, basil, oregano and chilli. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the macaroni (and frozen peas here if you are cheating) and cook until the pasta is tender. Add the red wine and heat through.
Serve with big chunks of crusty bread. Feeds at least 6.
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