Minestrone Soup – A response to Autumn’s breezy coolness

While I was dredging chunks of brisket through the smoky gravy on Saturday, I had a vision of the leftover brisket lolling about in a soup. Minestrone soup to be exact. I just love homemade soup, especially if it includes tomatoes and brisket. It’s perfect for the changing seasons, all rich and yummy. Minestrone doesn’t have a set recipe, since it’s traditionally made with seasonal vegetables. I wanted to start off on the right foot, even if it’s usually planted firmly in my mouth. Instead of digging through my cookbooks, I decided to see what Elise had going on. I lucked out, she did have a nice recipe and it looked good even in print. Thank you Simply Recipes, you just made my afternoon that much easier.
I had 2 pounds of brisket ready to go Sunday morning, my meez was in place. Are you ready?

Here’s Elise’s recipe, I suggest you read it through a few times so you get an idea of where I’m coming from and maybe you’d like to stick to her version.

It took me a few read throughs, but it looks as though she’s got two pots going at the same time. One has the beans & meat simmering for an hour and the other has the veggies simmering for that same hour. Make sure you have a large soup pot, something along the lines of this one:

While the soup only filled this about halfway up, it’s nice to have that little extra room for stirring and dumping stuff in. Plus, when you simmer the soup it doesn’t flurp out all over the place.
Here’s your shopping list:
1 bag (2 cups, Cannellini or Great White Northern Beans
1/4 pound good Pancetta (I upped it from 2 oz.)
2 pounds braised brisket or equal (hers didn’t have any, I needed it)
12 cups good low salt beef broth
1 yellow or white onion, decent size
1 celery stalk
3 carrots
1/2 head of fresh garlic (she called for 2 cloves, not enough)
1 bundle of flat leaf parsley
Extra Virgin
Savoy or Curly cabbage (I don’t know what that is, I got an Asian Cabbage)
1 potato
2 Zucchini
2 cups chopped plum tomatoes (I used 1 1/3 24 oz cans)
S & P
Some kind of hard cheese like Parmesan or Asiago (I used boff).
Alrighty then, first things first. I don’t do the overnight soaking method for beans. So far I’ve had no complaints about the Quick Soak method, especially for these smaller, creamier beans. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, install the rinsed beans (make sure you pick out the funky ones and any stones you find) in to the boiling water for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 1 hour.
While these are soaking, prepare your two piles of meez.
Note: As in most soups, please make all veggies and meats the same size when chopping or dicing. This makes for a really nice presentation and easy eating. This ain’t no country stew.
Batch #1
1 – 1 1/2 cups dried Cannellini or Great Northern Beans (I did 1.5 cups, 2 would have been fine too)
1/4 pound pancetta
2 pounds braised beef brisket. Leftover diced pork chops would also do just fine (whatever you gots). You could probably do raw brisket, just brown it first.
12 cups beef broth
1 onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 cup parsley, diced
Batch #2
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 head savoy or curly cabbage, sliced
1 potato, diced
2 zucchini, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cups chopped Italian styled peeled plum tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (season soup when served in bowls at the end)
Parmesan/Asiago cheese, grated for garnish
Optional: dose of red pepper flakes
Optional #2: A friend adds 1/4 cup fresh made basil pesto, I’ll add that next time!
Find a 6 quart pot and a larger soup pot, like you see above.
*In the 6 quart pot – Add your rinsed & soaked beans, add 6 cups of broth, chopped pancetta and diced brisket. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer gently for 1 hour or so. Stir occasionally.
In the larger pot add your oil and get it hot. Lightly brown veggies from Batch #1.
Once lightly browned, add veggies from Batch #2 and add the remaining 6 cups of beef broth. Simmer for about 50 minutes.
While the pots are simmering, get your kitchen cleaned up foo.
After the meat pot has finished doing its thing, find yourself a large serving spoon with holes in it. See if you can’t get a large portion of the brisket out and in to the veggie pot. Use a tater masher and mash up half the creamy white beans. Once it looks good, transfer meat pot to the large veggie pot.
Elise says to simmer for 5 minutes and serve. For whatever reason, I didn’t have the rich flavors I was looking for. And because I didn’t use a blender on the beans, I didn’t have the thick consistency either. So, I simmered for another hour. Bingo !!!

The broth was so complex and rich. I could taste each ingredient in each spoonful, no kidding. The creamy white beans were there, the brisket chimed in, the ‘maters were clearly nice and bright and even the zucchini had something to say. I’ve had it 3 days in a row and ain’t tired of it yet. The kids weren’t so hot on it, too many “green things” I suppose. Mama didn’t have any problem diving in for a few days too. All in all it was a tummy warming happiness on a brisk Sunday evening. Served with a toasty slice of crusty bread makes it an entire meal.
I would like you to take note that while reading through the ingredients it doesn’t look as though that’s enough to match the 12 cups of broth. I was just itching to double up on stuff. Don’t. It’s fine. The addition of the extra meat was even pushing it. Just follow along and you’ll be just fine.
ps – I’m not really that great at making sure my recipe is clear and concise. You may have to read between a few lines or make something up.

4 thoughts on “Minestrone Soup – A response to Autumn’s breezy coolness

  1. OBOYO!
    Wonderful recipe and one that a truly simple mind like me can do,PLUS, you give a taste guarantee at the conclusion!
    I am very grateful to know about the “quick” method for soaking beans too! Sure cuts down on prep time.
    Homemade soup is the “bestest!” And a good minestrone is the “most bestest” in my view.
    Also, thanks for noting the “low salt” beef broth. Some of us are not permitted salt at all.
    I have a couple of questions though.
    1. Are we supposed to brown the meat first?
    2. Doesn’t cooking the vegies that long render them with a no “crunchy” factor, or is that irrelevant?
    Thanks for a really great recipe!

  2. Hey BB,
    Personally I think you could most certainly do it in one big pot too. It’d just be tougher to separate out the beans to mash.
    I didn’t have to brown the meat cause it was already cooked. But if you’re using raw brisket, yeah brown it. To make it easier, put the meat in the freezer until firm, not frozed. Check it at 45 minutes to see how it’s going. See, if it’s partially frozen, it’ll slice up PERFECT. Then brown.
    No crunch factor, it’s soup. All the veggies were still quite firm enough though, except the zucchini. You may want to through that in about halfway through the 3 hour simmer.

  3. OooooKaaaaa!
    Got it! Re the meat part of the recipe.
    And yeah, you’re “rite”, veggies in soup don’t need the crunch factor as long as they hold together.
    Zuke always tends to mush out early on, even if it is just being stir fried, at least, so I have noticed.
    So, the heads up on the Zuke is taken.
    T’anks Biggs!