Classic Borlotti Bean Minestrone

Lately, I've been getting my recipes from food52. I made this for a dinner party the other night and really loved it. While it was good the day I cooked it, it was fantastic two days later as leftovers.

I made a few changes. Instead of rice, I used barley at the behest of my sister. It was a great change. We also both agreed that perhaps just half a head of savoy cabbage would be plenty.

Also, I made it in a slow cooker and let it go all day. The next time I make this, I am putting the barley, cabbage, and peas in with the beans and letting it cook all day. It did not have quite enough time to cook down in the slow cooker.

The original recipe can be found here.

This is a classic minestrone that incorporates Savoy cabbage, borlotti beans, parmesan, and fresh herbs. My mother used to make similar soups when I was growing up and this version is one of my favorite comfort foods. I have developed a bit of an obsession for Rancho Gordo beans, and their borlotti beans are classic in a minestrone. I recommend you try their beans if you haven't already, but if you can't find borlotti beans, pinto beans or even kidney beans would do. Rancho Gordo's beans are fresher than most dried beans and don't need to cook as long so if you are not using them, soak the beans overnight first. Also, when we finish a block of fresh parmesan, I keep the rind in the refrigerator to use in soups. If you don't have one on hand, omit that ingredient and add a bit more cheese at the table.

Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 medium onion 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley 2 celery stalks, chopped 3 carrots, chopped 3 potatoes, chopped 1 cup dried borlotti beans (or pinto or kidney beans soaked overnight) 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes with their juice, chopped 1 parmesan rind 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste 2 cups peas 1/2 head Savoy cabbage, finely sliced 1 cup uncooked barley 6 fresh sage leaves, coarsley chopped 10 fresh basil leaves, coarsley chopped freshly grated parmesan for serving

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large soup pot and add the garlic, onion, parsley, celery, carrots, and potatoes. Stir for a couple of minutes to coat the vegetables with oil.

Add the borlotti beans, tomatoes, parmesan rind, and 10 cups of water, and bring the water to a boil.

Lower the heat, cover, and let the soup simmer for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Add the cabbage and cook for about 15 minutes.

Add the rice and peas and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the sage and basil and serve immediately. Top each bowl with an extra bit of parmesan.

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Aunt Beth got this recipe from a restaturant in Alaska when her and her husband, Charlie, went for an Alaskan cruise. She made it for an Everett family gathering and it's hearty enough to serve as the main course.