Hearty minestrone recipe

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A good minestrone captures the fleeting flavors of summer vegetables in a bowl. We wanted to create the ultimate version: a rich broth that would be packed with flavor and that would feature lots of contrasting textures. Sautéing pancetta and then cooking the vegetables in the rendered fat gave our soup layers of flavor, while a Parmesan rind added richness. Because we were relying on the starch from the beans to give our soup some body, it was necessary to start with dried beans. The last component we considered for our perfect minestrone was the liquid, settling on just the right combination of chicken broth, water, and V8 juice (which added a big wallop of vegetable flavor). If you’re pressed for time, you can skip brining and quick-salt-soak the beans: In step 1, combine the salt, water, and beans in a Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Off the heat, cover the pot and let sit for 1 hour. Drain and rinse the beans and proceed with the recipe. In order for the starch from the beans to thicken the soup, it’s important to maintain a vigorous simmer in step 3.

  • Yield: 6 to 8 Servings
  • Total Time: 1 Hour 45 Minutes


  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 ounces (1¼ cups) dried cannellini or great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 3 ounces pancetta, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 2 small onions, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 zucchini, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ small head green cabbage, cored and cut into ½-inch pieces (2 cups)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Parmesan cheese rind (optional), plus grated Parmesan for serving
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1½ cups V8 juice
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
How to Make It
  1. Dissolve 1½ tablespoons salt in 8 cups cold water in large container. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.
  2. Cook oil and pancetta in Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until pancetta is lightly browned and fat has rendered, 3 to 5 minutes. Add onions, celery, carrot, and zucchini and cook until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in cabbage, garlic, pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until cabbage starts to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer vegetables to rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
  3. Add soaked beans, 8 cups water, broth, Parmesan rind, if using, and bay leaf to now-empty pot. Bring to vigorous simmer over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are fully tender and liquid begins to thicken, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Stir reserved vegetables and V8 juice into soup and cook until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Off heat, discard bay leaf and Parmesan rind, if using. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing extra oil and grated Parmesan separately.

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