MINESTRONE

MINESTRONE IN ITALIAN TRANSLATES AS “BIG SOUP”.  YOU CAN PUT ANYTHING IN IT YOU LIKE, BUT IT’S PRIMARILY A VEGETABLE SOUP, SO WHICH VEGETABLES YOU ADD WILL DEPEND ON THE SEASON.  CALIFORNIA, OF COURSE, IS BLESSED WITH A LONG GROWING SEASON.  (WE’RE STILL GETTING GREAT TOMATOES IN THE FARMER’S MARKETS.)  WHAT GIVES THIS PARTICULAR RECIPE ITS HEFT ARE THE PARMESAN RINDS.  IF YOU HAVEN’T BEEN STOCKING UP, YOU CAN PROBABLY ASK AT YOUR LOCAL SUPERMARKET AND THEY’LL PUT SOME ASIDE FOR YOU.  SIMMERED LOW AND SLOW, THEY INFUSE THE BROTH WITH A CHEESY DEPTH AND RICHNESS.  SOME RECIPES ADVISE YOU TO REMOVE THEM BEFORE SERVING, BUT I PREFER TO CUT THEM INTO SMALL PIECES.  THEY TURN SPONGY, CHEWY AND ONLY ENHANCE THE CRISPNESS OF THE VEGETABLES, WHICH SHOULD BE SERVED A BIT UNDERDONE SINCE THEY WILL CONTINUE TO COOK IN THE HOT SOUP.  SERVED WITH GARLIC-RUBBED GRILLED BREAD FROM A HEARTY COUNTRY LOAF THIS MINESTRONE IS A MEAL IN ITSELF, PERFECT FOR A COLD WINTER NIGHT.
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