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Minestrone Soup with Beef

Minestrone is a famously delicious Italian soup made with lots of fresh vegetables, tomatoes and white beans. Sometimes pasta is added. This version has the addition of red lentils and beef short ribs. The beef is fall-off-the-bone tender and the lentils melt into the broth to give it a creamy texture. It's the perfect supper for a cold winter night.

5 from 2 reviews

A soup of fresh vegetables, beans, lentils and tender beef. A hearty one pot wonder that makes a perfect meal for a cold winter night.

Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 pounds of beef short ribs, on the bone (the bones add great flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Several grinds of freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 leeks, white and light green part, finely chopped and washed (see notes below)
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons of minced fresh parsley, plus more for garnishing
  • 1 28-ounce can imported Italian plum tomatoes
  • 8 cups of low-salt chicken broth, divided
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 cup of dried red lentils, rinsed
  • 4 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice (4 cups)
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice (3 cups) Note: Peel and cut the potatoes right before adding them to the soup, so they don't discolor. Or cut them in advance and keep them in a bowl of water with a teaspoon of lemon juice. Drain before adding them.
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen (defrosted) green peas
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Optional Add In:
  • 2 ounces of cooked pasta, such as ditalini, acini de pepe, or alphabet noodles.
  • Optional Garnishes:
  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Grated imported parmesan cheese, such as Parmigiana Reggiano

Instructions

  1. Season meat on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium high heat in a large (5-6 qt) soup pot or Dutch oven. Brown the beef in two batches, for 2-3 minutes per side. Set the beef aside and pour all the fat out of the pot.
  2. Add remaining 4 tablespoons of oil and sauté chopped vegetables over medium-low heat: leeks, carrots, celery, onion, and garlic, for 6-7 minutes or until tender and starting to brown.
  3. Return meat to the pot. Add canned tomatoes and their juice, tearing each tomato into pieces by hand as you add it to the pot.(If you're not up for hand-tearing the tomatoes, roughly chop them before adding). Add beans, lentils, parsley, and 6 cups of chicken stock (reserve remaining two cups of stock to thin the soup later, if needed.)
  4. Bring soup to a boil over medium-high heat and immediately reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot mostly, leaving a very small opening. Simmer for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  5. Add the zucchini and potatoes and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook the soup for another hour, uncovered.
  6. Remove the meat and bones from the soup. Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and return it to the pot. Add the peas. Cook the soup for 5 minutes longer, until everything is heated through. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve in deep bowls. If you like, add a few tablespoons of cooked pasta to each bowl and stir through. Garnish each bowl with a drizzle of good olive oil, a sprinkle of chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese.

Notes

How to wash leeks: Leeks have multiple layers that tend to trap dirt and sand. To remove the grit, slice the leeks and wash them several times in a salad spinner. If you don't have a salad spinner, put the leeks into a mesh colander sitting in a bowl of water. Swoosh the leeks in the water, lift the colander, pour out the water.  Refill and repeat until the leeks are free of grit and the water is clear.

Time Saving Tip: Use a food processor with the chopping blade attachment to finely chop the vegetables. First cut them into chunks. Then pulse them in the food processor until you get a fine chop.

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