Recipe courtesy of Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell

Maria's Vegetable Minestrone

Up until the 1960s in Sicily and the 1940s in America, meat was scarce and expensive. Times were tough in Sicily during and after WWII, and most families ate mainly vegetables. Rose Marie's family lived in a rural area and her papa was able to forage for wild vegetables and herbs. That's when little Rose Marie first started perfecting this minestrone.
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Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil

2 celery stalks, sliced

1 large onion, diced

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

6 plum tomatoes, diced

2 large potatoes, peeled and diced

1 bunch kale, chopped

1 pound ditalini or other small pasta

Salt and pepper

1 cup frozen baby peas, rinsed

One 15.5-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

One 15.5-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Grated or shaved Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving

Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

Directions

  1. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add celery, onions and parsley. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden brown--about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juices and cook, scraping up the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, until lightly thickened--5 minutes. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, bring 5 quarts of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, kale, pasta and salt to taste. Simmer 8 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Remove half of the water; reserve in case the soup gets too dry. The remaining mixture should be soupy. Add reserved celery-onion-tomato mixture, peas and both types of beans to the pasta. Simmer to combine all ingredients. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes so that the flavors can blend. Taste and correct for salt and add reserved soup liquid if necessary.
  3. Serve in large bowls with grated Romano cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

Cook’s Note

If you're not serving the soup right away, you can keep it in the fridge overnight after adding the beans (do not simmer). If serving right away, simmer for 5 minutes. You don’t want to go too long or else the potatoes will overcook.

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