Classic Borlotti Bean Minestrone

May 17, 2010
0 Ratings
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

This is a classic minestrone that incorporates Savoy cabbage, borlotti beans, parmesan, and fresh herbs. My mother used to make similar soups when I was growing up and this version is one of my favorite comfort foods. I have developed a bit of an obsession for Rancho Gordo beans, and their borlotti beans are classic in a minestrone. I recommend you try their beans if you haven't already, but if you can't find borlotti beans, pinto beans or even kidney beans would do. Rancho Gordo's beans are fresher than most dried beans and don't need to cook as long so if you are not using them, soak the beans overnight first. Also, when we finish a block of fresh parmesan, I keep the rind in the refrigerator to use in soups. If you don't have one on hand, omit that ingredient and add a bit more cheese at the table.

What You'll Need
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 potatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup dried borlotti beans (or pinto or kidney beans soaked overnight)
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes with their juice, chopped
  • 1 parmesan rind
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 cups peas
  • 1 head Savoy cabbage, finely sliced
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 6 fresh sage leaves, coarsley chopped
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, coarsley chopped
  • freshly grated parmesan for serving
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large soup pot and add the garlic, onion, parsley, celery, carrots, and potatoes. Stir for a couple of minutes to coat the vegetables with oil.
  2. Add the borlotti beans, tomatoes, parmesan rind, and 10 cups of water, and bring the water to a boil.
  3. Lower the heat, cover, and let the soup simmer for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the cabbage and cook for about 15 minutes.
  5. Add the rice and peas and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
  6. Stir in the sage and basil and serve immediately. Top each bowl with an extra bit of parmesan.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Margy@hidethecheese
  • Joanne Bayly
    Joanne Bayly
  • Foodwriter97426

4 Reviews

Joanne B. October 14, 2016
Coarsely not coarsley.
Foodwriter97426 May 19, 2010
Sorry, that was a goof. I was trying to submit a recipe. Found the right place.
No problem -- but reading through it is making me hungry!
Foodwriter97426 May 19, 2010
Minestrone Soup
Makes 6 servings

1 medium onion, chopped
2 –4 cloves garlic, depending on size and preference, minced or crushed
olive or vegetable oil for sautéing
3/4 c dry cannellini beans, washed and picked over
1/4 c dry garbanzo beans, washed and picked over
6 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 tsp each fresh thyme, rosemary and oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup cut green beans, fresh or frozen
1 cup sliced and quartered zucchini
1 pound (or more) peeled and seeded tomatoes, chopped, and their juice
2” piece of Parmesan cheese rind
1 small (about 10 oz) Napa cabbage
1/3c soup pasta, such as ditalini, orzo, tiny shells
1/2 c red wine
Shredded Parmesan cheese for garnish

Heat a heavy 4-quart (or larger) pot over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to coat bottom of pot (about 2 tbl). Add onions and garlic; reduce heat to medium. Sauté until onions are translucent. Add beans, water and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer 1 1/2 hours or until beans are just barely tender.

Add herbs and seasonings, tomatoes, green beans and zucchini and cheese rind. Return to boil briefly, then reduce heat to low and simmer an additional 30 minutes.

In the meantime, thinly slice and chop cabbage. Add to soup along with the pasta and simmer 30 minutes.

At this point the soup can be refrigerated (or left on the stove with the heat off if serving within the hour) to be reheated before serving. When ready to serve, add wine and taste for seasoning. Serve topped with cheese, or pass cheese at the table.

Note: Soup can be made with canned beans. Use about 1 can cannellini and 1/2 can garbanzo, drained and rinsed. Sauté the onions until they are soft, then add beans along with everything except the cabbage and pasta and continue with above directions, simmering for 30 minutes before adding remaining ingredients.