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Author Notes: Although this isn't the dish most Italians call minestra, it's what my family from Lazio calls it. It's a mixture of lots of greens and beans, with enough liquid to soak up with your fresh bread the first day. However, eating minestra the next day is even better, with lots of extra virgin olive oil and stale chunks of bread to soak up the liquid. It's definitely not the prettiest of dishes, but the flavor more than makes up for it...oh, and it's really good for you too! —Christina @ Christina's Cucina
Food52 Review: This is a classic Minestra -- delicious as written and also open to interpretation. ccincalif gives us a soup, (zuppa) that is hearty and loaded with healthful vegetables, with bread that soaks it all up, making it a filling meal. I made the minestra following the recipe with a few minor changes: I could not find fresh dandelion so I subbed escarole. I also started with 20 ounces of water but ended up using 32 ounces to make it a bit more soupy. My first bowl on day one was wonderful, rich, warming and quite filling, and the flavor of the olive oil gives this soup a real Italian flair. On day two, I added sliced pancetta to the mix and finished with a shaving of pecorino. It brought back memories of my family! I enjoyed every spoonful of this delicious soup. —sdebrango
Serves 4 people, for two meals
For the minestra:
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 20 ounces water, or more if necessary
- 4 cloves of fresh garlic, slightly crushed
- 1 large (or 2 small) Savoy cabbage, cut into chunks
- 1 large bunch of dandelion, washed and cut in half
- 1 small- or medium-sized fennel bulb, washed and cut into pieces
- 1 bunch of spinach, washed and cut in half
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, or more as needed to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon dried fennel seeds
- 12 ounces cooked cannellini or borlotti beans
- Place oil, water, and garlic in a very large pot; heat over medium-high heat, then add the chopped Savoy cabbage, stir and cover with the lid. Let cook for another 5 minutes, then stir once more. Now add the dandelion greens and fennel, and continue to cook over medium heat, covered, stirring now and then, for about 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and the fennel seeds. Check to make sure the liquid has not dried up, if so, add more water. After you add the spinach, cook for another 5 minutes or so.
- Now add the beans and mix well into the minestra. Taste for salt and pepper, and continue to cook for just a few minutes until the beans are heated through. Serve with fresh crusty bread and slices of fresh, sweet onion.
For the reheated minestra with olive oil and stale bread:
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 cups leftover minestra
- 1 1/2 cups stale, crusty Italian bread, torn into bite-size pieces (measurement isn't important, just add more or less bread to your liking)
- In a non-stick frying pan over medium heat, put about 2 tablespoonfuls of olive oil, add the minestra and the torn pieces of bread, and drizzle about 1 or 2 more tablespoons of olive oil on top. Cook, stirring frequently, until the bread has absorbed the liquid and softened, and everything is heated through. Serve hot, with slices of sweet onion, if desired.
- This recipe is a Community Pick!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Fennel
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Stale Bread