I came across this recipe last year but had forgotten about it until I heard an interview on NPR a couple weeks back. What lured me into to this recipe was the V8 in the ingredients. We are big fans of that vegetable juice concoction, so why not give it a go?
The recipe calls for dried cannellini beans, but you can use great northern or navy beans. The soup base is a mixture of chicken broth, water, and that V8. I used chicken broth for the amount of water and water for the amount of chicken broth. I felt this would give the base more flavor and it does. Speaking of flavor, the broth mixture is further enhanced by the addition of a piece of parmesan rind. No, it doesn't melt. It just gives the soup a good, deep flavor.
Basil is added for a fresh flavor and red pepper flakes join the party for a good kick. Serve with parmesan cheese, a drizzle of good olive oil, and a piece of that Classic American Garlic Bread for dunking. Chock-full of veggies, beans, and a bit of pasta (because that's the way I like it), this is one hearty bowl of minestrone indeed.Printable Recipe
1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 quarts water
1/2 pound dried cannellini (about 1 cup), rinsed and picked over
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, cut into a 1/4-inch dice
2 medium celery ribs, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into a 1/2-inch dice
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into quarter-rounds
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 small head green or savoy cabbage, halved, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces, (about 2 cups)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
8 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 piece Parmesan cheese rind, about 5 by 2 inches (or a 2-inch chunk of cheese)
1 bay leaf
2 cups V8 juice
1/2 cup dried conchilgliette (small pasta shells), cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
In a large Dutch oven, combine the 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, water and beans. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pot from the heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain and rinse well.
In a large dutch oven, heat the oil and pancetta over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pancetta is lightly browned and fat has rendered, about 3-5 minutes. Addd the celery, carrot, onions, and zucchini. Sauté until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 5-9 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cabbage, and red pepper flakes (if using); continue to cook until cabbage starts to wilt, 1-2 minutes longer. Transfer vegetables to a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
Add the brined beans, chicken broth, water, Parmesan rind, and bay leaf to the now empty Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a vigorous simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are fully tender and liquid begins to thicken, 45-60 minutes.
Add the reserved vegetables and V8 juice to the beans and broth. Cook until the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and Parmesan rind. Stir in the cooked pasta and basil, then season with salt and pepper. Serve with grated Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, January 2010