As many times as I’ve made minestrone, one of my absolute cold weather favourites, over the years I find how I make it changes. I’m considering that a good thing as tastes and indeed eating habits do change over time. As well, living gluten free for some time now, I’m not only getting used to the challenges of it, I’m very much starting to enjoy the cooking of it!
There will however always be pitfalls and things to watch for, and I hate to use this word but, vigilance is needed. Case in point the low sodium chicken stock I recently purchased. No worries, I thought – it’s just stock. Wrong. I was in a great hurry, so didn’t even read the label until I took it out of my cupboard, to use for this soup. Sigh. Not having any homemade stock in my freezer (which is why I bought some…) and partway into the soup making, I adjusted the soup making plan.
Build the flavour as I go, I thought, since I’ll have to use water – which will add no taste. I’ll just compensate as I go along.
Truth is… this IS the best minestrone I’ve ever made! Using mostly what I had on hand in my pantry, bits & pieces of veg in the fridge and freezer, I made a thick, healthy, busting with flavour one-dish-dinner of 8 servings.
I know minestrone freezes well, so unless I’m soon to have unexpected company, some will be frozen for future happy noshing!
Here’s my best tips for an ultimate pot of Minestrone:
- Italian pork & fennel sausage gives the best flavour, but you could use ground turkey or chicken, and add extra fennel seeds (be sure the sausage is gluten free if it’s an issue for you).
- Really brown the sausage/meat in the first step, even if you use stock instead of water. Much like making stew, this step is crucial to building flavour.
- If you’re not already, save & freeze the rinds from Parmigiano Reggiano (other than the serious browning of the meat, this is a fantastic-o way to add flavour!)
- Taste as you go, and don’t be shy with seasoning; I used extra fennel seeds, dried Italian oregano, and some dried chili peppers. This is a big bold soup – and should taste like it.
- If gluten is not an issue for you, use white rice & regular pasta – although using the brown rice adds flavour & nutrition.