Here are a couple of my golden rules about ministrone no matter what time of year you are making it.
1. Seasonality of the vegetables. Only use what you get locally at the farmers markets. This will ensure that it is of the freshest quality and in season. This will make the flavor so much better. If it is spring use favas and peas, if its summer you have just about any beautiful veggie at your fingertips. This recipe uses black kale, (calvo nero) which is in season now. In Southern California we are lucky, because we have so many fruits and veggies in season for such a long time out of the year.
2. Cook the base (onions, garlic, carrots and celery) slow and low. You dont want to brown them. You will really bring the flavors out of the veggies this way. So take your time-think Slow Food! It will also have your whole house smelling of lovely minestrone soup for a long time.
A splash of good olive oil
2 small red onions-finely chopped
2 stalks celery-finely diced
1/2 head of fennel-chopped
1/2 head of celery root-chopped
4 cloves garlic-smashed with the side of your knife and finely chopped
2 Nante carrots-peeled and diced
1 stem of rosemary
2 stems of thyme
1 cup of good red wine
2 14-oz cans of good quality tomatoes
3 cups chicken stock
1 bunch Black kale, or Swiss chard, or spinach-washed and roughly chopped
1 cup canned chick peas
1 cup canned cannellini beans
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a heavy bottomed pot add olive oil over a medium heat. Then add red onions, celery. fennel, celery root, garlic, carrots, rosemary, and thyme. Turn heat down to low, and saute' veggies for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not let them brown. When they are soft add red wine and put heat up to medium. Let reduce by half. Then add tomatoes, chicken stock, kale, chick peas and cannellini beans. Let simmer on low for about 15 more minutes. Stir in cooked pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste, and stir in a bit of extra virgen olive oil to finish. Serve in big bowls with freshly grated parmasean cheese.