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This is the ultimate Italian winter meal. You may call it minestrone, I have dubbed it “super food in a bowl”! How can you go wrong when your meal is packed-full of dark green, robust leaves, antioxidants and vitamins? With the added nutrients of borlotti beans, extra-virgin olive oil and the kick of chillie, you have secured yourself a spa treatment for your insides that is sure to keep you warm from the first winter chill. Minestrone with cavolo nero is so much more than just a soup, so rich of revitalizing and hearty deliciousness, you feel restored and healthier after each mouthful.
INGREDIENTS, serves 4
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1 leek, well washed and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 small carrot, sliced
1 celery stick, sliced
1 chunk of parmesan cheese crust (optional, omit for a vegan version)
1 small handful of diced pancetta or speck (omit for a vegetarian, vegan version)
2 cups of fresh borlotti beans (or two tins, well rinsed. Alternatively, soak 2 cups of dried beans for 12 hours, then cook in simmering water for 2 hours)
2/3 cup tin tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of Brussel sprouts, quartered and outer leaves removed
4-5 cavolo nero leaves, stalk removed, shredded
3/4 of baby pasta (such as ditalini, orzo, macaroni)
Extra-virgin olive oil (or Chillie oil) to serve
1. Sautee’ the sliced and chopped vegetables with the oil in a large saucepan. Add the pancetta and cheese crust (if using)
2. Add the potatoes and the beans, the tomatoes and cover with water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40-45 minutes or until the beans are tender. (if using tinned beans, only add them 25 minutes into cooking the potatoes with the rest of the vegetables)
3. Add salt and pepper (only salt the beans after they are cooked, or they will wrinkle up)
4. Add a handful of Brussel Sprouts, the shredded cavolo nero and 3/4 cup of baby pasta (I used ditalini)
5. Cook for 7-8 minutes or until the pasta is nicely al dente. Turn off the heat.
6. Serve hot with a good swirl of extra-virgin olive oil or chillie oil.
I am not feeling the cold tonight…