Adapted from Biba’s Taste of Italy. 2001. Biba Caggiano, William Morrow Publishing.
Fresh Parsley, Basil, Cabbage and Asparagus tend to be infested with aphids, thrips and other insects. Please check “Special Instructions” below for instructions on insect inspection.
1/2 cup dried cannellini beans
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
3 ounces sliced pastrami, chopped
1 cup minced yellow onions
1/2 cup minced celery
1/2 cup minced carrots
1 generous tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 (14.5 ounce) can tomatoes, drained
2 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and diced
4 ounces green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium zucchini, diced
4 ounces white mushrooms, diced
2 cups shredded Savoy cabbage
4 ounces asparagus, diced
1 cup fresh or frozen petite green peas
8 to 10 basil leaves, shredded
2 quarts warm water or canned low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sort beans, pick out the bad ones and soak overnight in water to cover.
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add pastrami, onions, celery, carrots, and parsley; cook, stirring until vegetables are lightly golden and soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir, about 5 minutes. Drain and add the rehydrated cannellini beans, potatoes, green beans, zucchini, mushrooms, cabbage, asparagus, peas, and basil to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and stir for 2 to 3 minutes to coat vegetables well with savory base. Add warm water and Parmesan rind; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer, stirring from time to time, for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the minestrone has a dense, thick consistency. (If the soup should thicken too much, add a bit more water.) Remove cheese rind, and adjust seasoning. Turn off heat and let soup stand for about 30 minutes.
Note: Rice or small pasta such as ditalini can be added to the soup during the last minutes of cooking. Add rice 10 minutes before you turn off the heat, pasta 3 to 5 minutes before. The rice or pasta will keep cooking as the soup rests.Fresh Herbs and Insect Infestation: Fresh Parsely, Basil and other herbs, including cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, rosemary and thyme, are often used as spices or garnishing. Aphids, thrips and other insects may often be found on the leaves and stems of these herbs. Insects tend to nestle in the crevices between the leaves and branches of herbs. These insects can curl up and stick to the leaf once they come in contact with water. Recommendation: In order to determine if a particular bunch of herbs is infested prior to washing, bang it several times over a white cloth. This is most important when checking oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme. If only one or two insects are found, proceed with the steps below. If three or more insects are detected in a particular bunch of herbs, it should not be used. Inspection: 1. Soak herbs in a solution of cold water and vegetable wash. The proper amount of vegetable wash has been added when some bubbles are observed in the water. (In the absence of vegetable wash, several drops of concentrated non-scented liquid detergent may be used. However, for health reasons, thoroughly rinse off the soapy solution.) 2. Agitate the herbs in the soapy water, in order to loosen the sticking excretion of the bugs. 3. Using a heavy stream of water, thoroughly wash off the soap and other foreign matter from the herbs. 4. Check both sides of each leaf under direct light. 5. If one or two insects are found, rewash the herbs. 6. If any insects are found after repeating the agitation process twice, the entire bunch must be discarded. Cabbage and Insect Infestation: Cabbage may be infested with black/gray thrips or aphids and, less often, cabbage worm. Though cabbage infestation is seasonal, being more prevalent during the summer months, our research has indicated that outbreaks of infestation do occur in the winter months as well. We, therefore, recommend that cabbage be inspected throughout the year. Fortunately, it has been determined that infestation is predominantly limited to the first three layers of leaves, i.e. the outermost six leaves on the head (two per layer). If these six leaves are found to be clean, the rest of the head may be used. (Although insects have been found deeper than the third layer, this is uncommon.) The above holds true for Grade A cabbage only. Inferior grades of cabbage are much more prone to infestation, and their use is not recommended. Inspection: Please note: When examining sacks or cases of cabbage (typically containing 12–16 heads of cabbage taken from the same field), if three heads are found to be completely clean, the rest of the cabbage in that sack or case may be used without any inspection once the wrapper leaves have been discarded. Cabbage taken from larger cases or bins must be individually checked. Several methods have been developed for the inspection of cabbage: 1. Detach the loose leaves (‘‘wrapper leaves’’) and discard. 2. Core the cabbage and split the head in half, allowing the leaves to be peeled away more easily. 3. Peel the three outermost layers (approximately six leaves, not including wrapper leaves) off the head and discard. The remainder of the head may be used. 4. Some maintain that the six outermost leaves should be checked rather than discarded. The most practical way to check is to hold the leaf above direct light. Because the leaf is translucent and the bugs are not, the bugs are accentuated and easily detected. Check both sides of each leaf. 5. If only one or two insects are found on these six leaves, then they and the remaining leaves of the head may be used without further checking. It is recommended that the remaining leaves be washed before use. 6. If three or more insects are found on the first six leaves, the remaining leaves must be thoroughly washed and checked prior to use. The second method described above (_4) is impractical when cabbage quarters must remain tightly packed so that they may be shredded easily. It should be noted that the outer leaves of the quarter sections must be removed, checked and put back to facilitate shredding. Please note: Packaged, pre-washed and shredded green cabbage from leading national brands such as Dole, Redi-Pak, and Fresh Express are acceptable for use without any inspection throughout the year. Cabbage from these brands has been found to be consistently clean. (See section on Pre-Washed Vegetables below.) Prepared cabbage salads such as cole slaw, health salad and sauerkraut contain numerous ingredients which may pose kashrus concerns in addition the question of תולעים. These products are only recommended when bearing a reliable certification. Asparagus and Insect Infestation: Infestation: Asparagus is a spear-like vegetable approximately 6–8_ long with triangle scales along the sides, culminating with an arrangement of triangular tips. Thrips are primarily found under the triangle scales and somewhat less frequently in the tips of the asparagus. Asparagus Inspection: Asparagus can be used when prepared in the following manner: 1. Shave down the floret at the asparagus tip. 2. Remove the triangle parts along the side of the asparagus. (A potato peeler is recommended.) 3. Wash thoroughly. White Asparagus is hard to find and very expensive cousin to green asparagus has neither open florets nor scales for the insects to occupy. Hence, it may be used without any special preparation. However, it should be washed thoroughly before using.