And now it is time for one of those traditional and popular soup recipes that everybody, no matter where from, love: minestrone! Who can say no to Italian food? undoubtedly a safe bet that goes far beyond pasta and pizza. Let’s not forget olive oil, wine, cheese, prosciutto, the great variety of vegetable-based dishes from the Mediterranean areas, coffee and gelatto; and I could go on and on for ever. Besides the regional variants within Italy are almost unlimited and there is a lot to discover!
Due to my Argentinian origin I was very exposed to Italian gastronomy my whole life. Argentinian food was absolutely taken by Italian flavours after the big wave of immigrants (some of my ancestors came from Northern Italy) that went there during the first half of 20th Century along with Spanish and some other Europeans. However, the European and the local tradition mingled resulting in a new food style of its own, very multicultural but adapted to the local produce and taste.
That is why, in spite of my somehow Italian background, when I was lucky enough to set a foot in Italy for the first time as a teenager; I was overwhelmed by the flavours and also the high quality of everything I ate (not to mention the beauty of the places I visited). I had the fortune to spend some time living with a lovely Italian family in the Cuneo province and every day was a gastronomy feast ! I really recall this as a turning point in my life, it truly changed my view about food and cooking forever.
From then on, Italian cuisine have become of great influence in my every day cooking and minestrone is a must, so there we go!
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes (using the pressure cooker*); 50 minutes (regular cooking).
I am aware that we are more in a crockpot than a pressure cooker era, however when it comes to soups and stews I still find the pressure cooker very useful to save both time and energy and still get the intense flavour of an otherwise long cooked broth.
I suggest a list of vegetables here that can be virtually replaced by any you have at hand and/or in season.
- a good dash of olive oil (I use extra virgin)
- 1 garlic clove, pressed (I always use a garlic press, to me, one of the most useful kitchen utensils!)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 leek, sliced
- 1 celery stalk including some leaves, finely sliced
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 1/2 cup of turkey ham, diced (I buy it already diced in the supermarket, sometimes I also use diced Spanish ham. I went for a lighter option here , but you could use smoked bacon for a more orthodox version)
- 1/4 small pumpkin, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 cup cauliflower florets (I used frozen)
- 1 tomato tin, diced + its juice
- 1 cup pre-cooked beans of your choice (optional, you can use frozen, canned well rinsed and drained or fresh and pre-cooked. I did not used them since I am going for low-carb, light suppers after the Christmas season overeating)
- Salt and black fresh-ground pepper to taste
- 1 liter vegetable stock (I used good-quality bought)
- Dried basil
- Fresh parsley to garnish
Heat the oil in a medium-big cooking pot (the pressure cooking pot in my case) . Add the garlic, onion, leek, celery and carrot and stir fry over medium heat until they have softened.
Then add the turkey ham, stir to mix and put in the rest of the vegetables, the tomatoes and its juice (and the beans if using), season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Always take into account when adding salt, that the stock is already salted.
Pour the stock and add the basil. Put the lid to the pressure cooker* and when it reaches full pressure cook for 10 minutes. If using a regular pot, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 50 minutes. Serve, garnish with parsley and enjoy!
*Always follow your pressure cooker instructions and manage it with due care.
The first picture above belongs to another minestrone I’ve made previously, in this case I had added some pasta shell, as you can see options are unlimited!
Hope you pop up and looking forward to your comments!