Original article published at TasteAtlas.
One of the very bases of traditional Italian cuisine, minestrone is a thick, chunky soup made with whichever vegetables are in season. Historically, being a poor man’s food dating as far back as the year 30 CE, this peasant-style soup was made with a mashed bean or spelt base and leftovers from various contorni (side dishes) and other meals.
Today, even though there’s not a set recipe for this dish and every region has its own version, the most common ingredients include stock, onions, tomatoes, celery, carrots, and legumes. The vegetables are cut-up and simmered for quite a long time, but they must not turn mushy.
Lastly, pasta or rice can be added to round-up this inexpensive, yet filling dish. Depending on the method of cooking, these flavorful soups are divided into two main categories: minestrone a crudo and minestrone col soffritto. While the first version uses raw vegetables and often garlic-flavored olive oil added towards the end of cooking, minestrone col soffritto is made with vegetables which are first sautéed in butter, oil, pork fat or lard, together with pancetta (bacon) and pork rind.
The perfect comfort food to warm a cold day, minestrone is even better when made in advance and served reheated, as it takes some time for the flavors to fuse and deepen.