Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Yummylicious" Minestrone

Fennel is like a dark-haired Sicilian woman in a white sun dress walking a country road, the sun setting into the Mediterranean behind her.  Adding it to this dish helps create a depth that highlights all the other flavors and textures you find as you spoon your way through it.

Traditional minestrone starts with pancetta, a delicious Italian version of bacon. Unfortunately, it contains even more fat than bacon. For this lightened version, inspired by one by Michael Chiarello, I substituted Canadian bacon and used a light hand on the oil. Overall, minestrone is incredibly healthy, with loads of vegetables. For my Weight Watchers friends, at 10 1.5-cup servings, the soup works out to 3 points a bowl. Add some warm whole wheat baguette.

And don't think this is something the kids won't eat. Quinn, our 15-year-old picky eater, called it "yummylicious!"

Let's eat!

4 oz uncooked ditalini pasta
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 cups chicken broth (I used the turkey broth I made from our Thanksgiving carcass)
4 oz Canadian-style bacon, diced
2 cups onion, finely diced
1 cup celery, finely diced
1 cup carrot, finely chopped
1 Tbsp thyme, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fennel seed, ground
6 cloves garlic, sliced
14 oz canned cannellini beans
14 oz canned diced tomatoes
4 cups zucchini, small diced
1 cup potatoes, small diced
4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp table salt, to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain and transfer the pasta to a bowl. Toss the pasta with a little (less than 1 teaspoon) olive oil to prevent sticking.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the chicken stock.

In another large saucepan over medium high heat, heat oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the Canadian bacon and cook until it begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat to medium and add the onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until the vegetables are soft, stirring often to prevent browning. Add the herbs. 

Raise the heat to high. Add the beans, tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Then bring it down to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are done, 12 to 15 minutes, skimming any foam off the top of the soup. 

Season generously with pepper. Add salt, to taste. Just before serving, add the cooked pasta. Serve warm with Parmesan on the side.


aquadaze said...

I love one pot meals, this one really fits the bill to a T!

Mother Rimmy said...

Minestrone is a favorite in my house. Can't wait to try this!

MissWassaisinadifferentcountry said...

i love minestrone, but never be able to make it right...
i will try again this time :D

foodlovee said...

I love minestrone and your looks so very good.

dokuzuncubulut said...


(no)more_cheese_please said...

A simple sub with veggie stock and liquid smoke would turn this soup into a veg-friendly dish! YUM... I love fennel!

Tasty Eats At Home said...

I love this. With all those veggies and spices, who needs much fat? This has lots of flavor. Yum!

5 Star Foodie said...

A delicious minestrone soup, very nice!

ARLENE said...

I'll have to toss some fennel into my next minestrone. You might want to try center cut bacon. It has less fat (fewer points), but imparts more of a bacon flavor than the Canadian bacon. I generally go with the pancetta because you can use so much less of it, but then you have to toss that great grease.

Scott K said...

Thank you all for your comments!

cookingcorner said...

That looks great, good for a cold winter night.

Melissa Peterman said...

Wow- very poetic post Scott! I just stumbled across your blog on Foodista-I'm not sure if you have heard but we just announced a call for submissions for a food blogger cookbook contest this week!
For the next three months, food bloggers can submit their photography, writings, and original recipes to The public can view all submissions on the website and vote for their favorites. That feedback and editors at both Andrews McMeel Publishing and will determine 100 entries chosen for inclusion in "The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook." More info available here:

you should totally enter!

Scott K said...

Thanks Melissa! I will.

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