Slow Cooking Minestrone
I am reading “The Brothers K” and haven’t enjoyed a book more in quite a while. After I made this soup on a Sunday evening, I sat down to read and opened to my dog-eared page, where one of the main characters had just made lasagna after a long period of mourning a break up. He tasted his lasagna and thought to himself, “There’s something missing. Â But there is always something missing. Having things missing, even indispensable things, is a fact of life, don’t you think? And life goes on anyhow. Except for the missing parts. Which were indispensable, so of course it goes on all out of whack. But that, hell and damn, is why we prefer things like cooking to philosophizing.”
I am making an effort to not fixate on what I think is missing (or what society, or my own notions of the way things should be, deem to be missing). There will always be missing pieces, but it depends on your mind’s approach and the way you frame it. Â We are busting out of our small San Francisco apartment, and a bigger apartment is really missing from my life :). So I have done a little re-arranging, some spring cleaning, a bit more time spent outdoors and armed myself with a mindset that even if we had a bigger apartment, it would come with a whole slew of new “missing” things. With some effort and practice, this way of thinking has created space for a whole newÂ sense of contentment.
This soup is good. The long, low temperature cooking brings out flavors that are subtle, but strong. And that can happen with vegetables. It is also a soup that lends itself well to whatever you have on hand, or whatever ingredient you love and think is missing. I imagine that the next go around we will add a generous pinch of chili pepper flakes, butternut squash or even dried shiitake mushrooms.
A word on soaking beans: Allowing dry beans, such as the ones used in this recipe, to soak independently of the rest of the ingredients in a soup cuts down on cooking time. Depending on the type of bean that you wish to use, soaking overnight is best and maximizes the retention of nutrients. It also makes them easier to digest and rids your precious beans of phytic acid that causes gas and bloating upon consumption.
Slow Cooking Minestrone (aka chop and walk soup)
- 1 leek or onion, chopped
- 1 tbs. neutral oil
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 c. of chopped carrots
- 3-4 medium sized potatoes, chopped (I used Yukon Gold)
- 1 lbs (2 c.) beans that have been soaked overnight (I used Cannellini, but any favorite will work)
- 8-12 cups vegetable broth
- 1 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
- 4 twigs of rosemary
- 4-6 twigs of thyme
- salt to taste
Soak the beans overnight in in a large bowl with cold water, make sure there is about 3 inches of water above the beans. Rinse and drain before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Place a cast iron dutch oven on the stove over medium heat and add the oil, garlic, and onions, cook for 5 minutes. Â Add the carrots, potato, tomato, and beans to the onion mixture. Add about 8 cups of the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Â Then add the rosemary, thyme, and salt, stir and cover with the lid. If you wish to add more vegetable broth, do so here. Make sure there is a seal and place the dutch oven in the oven. Cook for 6 to 8 hours, taste to test readiness.