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Soup’s On — Why Now?
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Soup’s On

Southern Italian Minestrone

Minestrone is one of those dishes with a thousand different recipe’s! It was originally a poor family meal made up of whatever ingredients could be found. This particular recipe has been used extensively through Southern Italy, though it’s probably used all over with some variations. 🙂


1 kilogram soup potatoes
1 kilogram vegetables (onions, leeks, fresh or dried kidney and soup beans, green beans, carrots, celery, turnips, pumpkin, spinach) or whatever vegetables are in season or easily found. Fresh is best.
4 cloves of crushed garlic (or up to individual taste)
150 grams Swiss air-dried pig chest bacon (or similar thick, lean bacon)
1 pig trotter (secret ingredient #1)
1 Parmesan crust (secret ingredient #2)
1 large slice of pig skin (pork rind from the bacon) (secret ingredient #3)
4 Bay leaves
Fresh chopped parsley, basil, 1 twig of thyme and 1 of rosemary (proportions up to you)
6-8 Cloves (number of cloves up to individual taste)
6-8 Peppercorns (used for cooking soup beans)
Rock Salt, ground black pepper (Up to individual taste.)
Freshly grated Parmesan and Pecorino cheese. (again, amount depends on individual taste. however, Parmesan should be a wedge with the crust on for use later).

NOTE: 1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds. No need to be exact in the measures for the vegetables. And it depends how big a pot you have and how much you want to make. Just try to keep all the proportions relative. 🙂


1. Cook the soup beans separately (otherwise they’ll taint your soup black) in a little water with a bay leaf, peppercorns and two cloves.

2. Sauté the finely diced bacon. Add finely chopped onions and leek and continue to sauté over medium-high heat until the onion and leek starts to brown slightly.

3. Add the first secret ingredient, her majesty the piggy trotter! They pack a large amount of gelatin that helps thickening the soup. You might be able to use a marrow bone instead, but it would not be so authentic anymore. Elderly Italians swear that this helps relieve arthritis. 🙂

4. Add the diced potatoes and other root vegetables (carrots, turnips, celery, turnips etc…). Also add the cubed pumpkin at this stage. Cooking time is not so vital here since the soup will cook for about 3 hours and every vegetable will fall apart. Cover with water, mineral water is preferable if you have it. Bring to a boil and then decrease the heat to simmer the soup for hours.

5. Now for the secret ingredient #2, a slice of pig skin (recycled from the chopping of the bacon piece). Remember to remove it from the soup at the end), it will add a nice flavor. As for secret ingredient #3, the most important and most Italian ingredient is the Parmesan crust, cut from a piece of Parmesan used later. Kids in Italy will fight over who gets to eat that, and it adds nice flavor to the soup.

6. A twig of rosemary and thyme will cook with the soup. Add the bay leaves (you can sew everything in a leek outer skin for a nice flavor touch – a little French technique learned from a Cordon Bleu Chef).

7. Add the freshly cut green beans and zucchini. Do not worry about overcooking the zucchini, they are meant to be so overcooked they’ll turn into a puree that will help thicken the soup.

8. After 20 minutes spent washing, stemming and cutting spinach leaves, they are finally ready to be added to the soup. The cooked beans are filtered from their black cooking broth and added.

9. Cover and simmer until most vegetables start falling apart without your needing to really crush them – usually about 3 hours.

10. Remove the pig skin, bay leaves and herbs. Add some finely chopped parsley and/or basil. Correct the seasoning with ground rock salt and ground pepper as needed.

11. With a potato crusher crush the vegetables. Serve the soup hot with grilled bread, raw olive oil and a sprinkling of freshly grated mix of Parmesan and Pecorino cheese.

12. A squeeze of lemon juice or vinegar can be added for zest if you like.

You can reheat this soup the next day and the day after and even eat it cold. Since most ingredients are dissolved in the soup, the texture remains fine and palatable. It can be frozen also. People swear it tastes better when it’s a day old. 😉

BTW, Heres the ‘Maltese Kitchen Prayer’ (often found hanging on a kitchen wall in a Maltese home). 😉

Help Yourself to Whatever is Before You
Take Enough For Your Hunger And Thirst
Heap Your Plate and Enjoy to the Fullest
Just Remember to Thank the Lord First.

Goda di (Enjoy!) 😀

[Editor’s note: Pecorino is a sheep’s milk Romano. I generally substitute half and half Romano and Parmesan whenever a recipe calls for Parmasan alone, because the Italians in upstate New York do it.]


1 hipparchia { 06.08.08 at 1:24 am }

parmesan crust?

i cook whole chickens in a soup pot to get gelatin for use in other dishes, precisely because it really does seem to help the achy joints.

2 Kryten42 { 06.08.08 at 1:43 am }

RE: Parmesan crust… See comment 23& 24 here. 😉

Cooking with Kryten – Why Now?

Thanks for the added note above about the pecorino cheese Bryan! In fact, you can us Romano or just Parmesan. It’s a personal choice. 🙂

Enjoy friends! 😀

PS. If you do make it, let me know how you go. If you need any help, feel free to ask! 🙂

3 Bryan { 06.08.08 at 3:21 pm }

As I said, I make no claim that it is better, only that it is the way I grew up with the food.

4 Kryten42 { 06.08.08 at 11:10 pm }

All food is up to individual tastes IMHO! If you want to add or change anything and it tastes good to you, go for it. 🙂 To be honest, even though these are *family recipe’s* there was never any guarantee they would be the same twice in a row! LOL Depended on what was available and how the cook (Gran or Mom) felt on the day! LOL And it was the same when I spent a year in Italy. 🙂

Actually… there was ONE recipe that was a shooting offense if anyone changed it! 😉 I’ll post it next… LOL

5 hipparchia { 06.08.08 at 11:13 pm }

that’s how i cook: hmmm, needs more green, what do i have around here that’s green? some of this, some of that, maybe a little more of that. and you can tell it’s done by the smell.

6 Bryan { 06.09.08 at 12:42 am }

You have to learn to substitute down here, just because they don’t bother to bring in many ingredients. It was years after we first got here that someone opened an Italian restaurant. My Mother was growing her own Romas and sweet corn, and squash, because you couldn’t buy locally, and she worked for the local grocery store at the time.

7 LadyMin { 06.09.08 at 12:49 am }

And I thought half Pecorino half Parmesan was one of my secret ingredients. Little did I know half of New York was using it.

8 Kryten42 { 06.09.08 at 12:52 am }

And half Italy, Aus… LOL Big secret! 😉 😀

9 Bryan { 06.09.08 at 1:20 am }

Lady Min, the Chapmans in my family moved a lot of people and goods from New York City to the Great Lakes along the Eire Canal, and people got off all along the way. [They also provided the John Chapman who was known as Johnny Appleseed in the Midwest.]

I’m not surprised that the same thing is done all along the route.

Given the cost of freight, you stretched what you had. The local cheeses were made from cow’s milk by Switzers from Kanton Bern beginning in 1880. Most of whom I’m related to. The Italian cheeses were still imported for a very long time.

10 Kryten42 { 06.13.08 at 9:43 am }

This is one of my very FAVORITE things in the whole World, that I can no longer enjoy often (it’s definitely NOT diabetes friendly, though… if I wait for my glucose to get to almost hypoglycemic levels, I can have some.) 😉

I actually have three Tiramisu recipe’s, one I prefer slightly to this is much more exacting in ingredients and preparation. You have to make a perfect zabaglione first to make it.

Genoise Cake Tiramisu

Part 1: Make the Genoise Cake

* 3 whole large eggs
* 1/3 Cup + 3 tbsp Sugar, granulated
* 1 tsp vanilla extract (NOT syrup)
* 1/2 cup cake flour, Sifted
* 2 tbsp butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Spray a 9″ diameter round cake pan or 8″ x 8″ rectangular cake pan with vegetable oil spray and lightly dust with cake flour.
3. Beat the eggs and 1/3 cup of sugar at medium speed in a double-boiler (or use a stainless steel mixing bowl over a saucepan of water) over very hot water (just shy of boiling) until silky smooth.
4. Add the remaining 3 tbsp of sugar and beat at high speed until the mixture reaches a consistency that forms ribbons when poured.
5. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla, and carefully fold in the cake flour.
6. Fold in the melted butter.
7. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake at 350° F for 30 to 40 minutes
8. Remove from oven and immediately turn cake out of pan onto a wire rack to cool.

Part 2: Make the Spirits & Coffee Syrup (there are two alternative methods):

Method 1 (Preferred):

* 2/3 cup of Espresso (or black) coffee, as strong as you can make it (NOT instant coffee!!)
* 1 tbsp sugar, granulated
* 1/4 cup dry Marsala (or Madeira)

1. Mix the sugar into the coffee.
2. Evaporate down (by boiling) the coffee-sugar mixture until only 1/3 cup remains.
3. Add the Marsala and stir.

Method 2:

* 2 tbsp Italian coffee syrup
* 3 tbsp water, very hot
* 1/4 cup dry Marsala (or Madeira)

1. Stir together the Italian Coffee Syrup and water.
2. Add the Marsala and stir.

Part 3: Make the Mascarpone Creme:

* 1/2 lb Mascarpone cheese
* 1/2 cup superfine sugar (Or granulated sugar milled in blender)
* 2 large egg yolks
* 3 tbsp Marsala or Cognac(Or 2 tbsp Marsala + 1 tbsp Grappa)

1. Thoroughly beat the sugar into the Mascarpone cheese.
2. Add the 2 egg yolks and Marsala and beat until the mixture is smooth.

Part 4: Make the Whipped Cream:

* 1 pint heavy whipping cream
* 1 tbsp Sugar, powdered
* 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (NOT syrup)

1. Dissolve the sugar and vanilla extract into the whipping cream.
2. Beat the mixture until glossy and stiff.

Part 5: Make the Chocolate Gratings:

* 1 square (1 ounce) semi-sweet chocolate, good quality, well-chilled but not frozen

1. Grate into fine shavings and set aside (this is most easily done with a food processor because hand grating tends to melt the chocolate)

Part 6: Assemble the Tiramisu:

1. Slice the Genoise cake in half latitudinally to make two layers.
2. Put one layer of the Genoise cake at the bottom of the serving bowl or pan and sprinkle half of the spirit-coffee syrup over it.
3. Spread half of the Mascarpone Creme over the cake layer.
4. Spread half of the Whipped Cream over the layer of Mascarpone Creme.
5. Sprinkle the Chocolate Gratings over the Whipped Cream layer.
6. Put the second layer of Genoise cake on top of the stack, sprinkle it with the remaining spirit-coffee syrup, and repeat instructions 3 to 5 immediately above.
7. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

tbsp = tablespoon
tsp = teaspoon
” = inch

Enjoy! 😀

11 Bryan { 06.13.08 at 1:04 pm }

Thanks, Kryten.