- Adapted from Biba’s Taste of Italy. 2001. Biba Caggiano, William Morrow Publishing.
- The beans need to soak overnight before making the soup.
- Fresh parsley, basil, cabbage, and asparagus tend to be infested with aphids, thrips and other insects. Please see “Kashrut Instructions” below for instructions on checking these for insect infestation.
- ½ cup dried cannellini beans
- ⅓ to ½ cup olive oil
- 3 oz. sliced pastrami
- 1 cup minced yellow onions
- ½ cup minced celery
- ½ cup minced carrots
- 1 generous Tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can tomatoes, drained
- 2 medium boiling potatoes
- 4 oz. green beans
- 2 medium zucchini
- 4 oz. white mushrooms
- 2 cups shredded Savoy cabbage
- 4 oz. asparagus
- 1 cup fresh or frozen petite green peas
- 8 to 10 basil leaves
- 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.
- Chop pastrami. Dice zucchini, asparagus, and mushrooms. Cut green beans into ½-inch pieces. Set aside.
- 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.
- Meanwhile, peel and dice potatoes and shred basil.
- 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; 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.*
- Adjust seasoning, turn off heat, and let soup stand for about 30 minutes.
- * If the soup should thicken too much, add a bit more water.
- 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.
DESCRIPTION: Asparagus contains beetles and thrips. Thrips are primarily found under the triangle scales and somewhat less frequently in the tips of the asparagus.
- Shave down the floret at the asparagus tip.
- Remove the triangle parts along the side of the asparagus. (A potato peeler is recommended.)
- Wash thoroughly.
When prepared in this manner, special inspection is not necessary.
INFESTATION: Cabbage may be infested with black/gray thrips and, less often, cabbageworm. 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.
The cabbageworm is a small (approximately 1/8” long) white or sometimes green worm that burrows its way into the cabbage head. Holes in the outer leaves of the head are signs of the presence of these worms. When exposed, these worms will at times stand up vertically off the surface of the leaf.
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:
- Detach the loose leaves (“wrapper leaves”) and discard.
- Core the cabbage and split the head in half, allowing the leaves to be peeled away more easily.
- Peel the three outermost layers (approximately six leaves, not including wrapper leaves) off the head.
- Carefully check these six leaves. 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.
- 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.
- 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 (3-4) 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.
Shredded cabbage may be washed in a colander; no inspection is required.
DESCRIPTION: Fresh Chives, basil, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme are often used as spices or garnishing.
Please Note: Curly leaf parsley is very difficult to check. It is therefore recommended that only flat leaf parsley be used.
INFESTATION: 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.
Vegetable spinners, power hoses, and light boxes are not always available in the home. We therefore recommend the following alternate procedure.
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.
- 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 unscented liquid detergent may be used. However, for health reasons, care must be taken to thoroughly rinse off the soapy solution.)
- Agitate the herbs in the soapy water, in order to loosen the sticking excretion of the bugs.
- Using a heavy stream of water, thoroughly wash off the soap and other foreign matter from the herbs.
- Check both sides of each leaf under direct light.
- If one or two insects are found, rewash the herbs.
- If any insects are found after repeating the agitation process twice, the entire bunch must be discarded.
Please note: To prepare herbs such as cilantro, dill, or parsley for use in soups, wash them thoroughly and place in a cooking bag.