Hearty Winter Minestrone with Chili Oil, Lemon Zest and Parmesan

This winter minestrone is a soul-satisfying blend of flavors in a bowl. Chock full of hearty vegetables and flavored with chili oil, lemon zest and Parmesan, how can you resist?

It was snow-raining this evening around dinner time. I sure was glad to have a pot of this soup simmering away on the stove...and a nice loaf of crusty bread warming in the oven...and some brie coming to room temp on the counter...and some ale in the fridge. That was my formula for a good dinner.

This is a wonderful soup that comes together without too much trouble. Simple and rustic with a wonderful hit of flavor from the chili oil, zest and cheese. Soul satisfying to say the least.

If you would like to make this soup vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth or even water for the chicken broth. If you would like to make this vegan as well, omit the Parmesan.

Hope you enjoy it!

Hearty Winter Minestrone Soup with Chili Oil, Lemon Zest and Parmesan
(adapted from lidiasitaly.com)

4 Tablespoons + ½ cup olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)

2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice (about 2 cups)

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

1 quart chicken stock + 2 quarts water

2 bay leaves

2 large carrots, scrubbed and chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)

1 stalk celery, chopped (about ¼ cup)

Kosher salt/freshly ground black pepper

1 small head Savoy cabbage, cored and shredded (about 8 cups)

1 bunch kale, rinsed and shredded (about 3 cups)

1-2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup small pasta (ditalini/stelle/orzo), cooked to al dente

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or a small dried chili

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

Zest of organic lemon

Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Heat 4 Tablespoons olive oil in an 8-quart Dutch oven over high heat until
shimmering. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly
softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add potatoes and cook, stirring
occasionally, until potatoes begin to stick to bottom of pot, about 5 minutes.
Scrape vegetables to one side of pot; add tomato paste to empty space and cook,
stirring, until paste darkens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir tomato paste into
rest of vegetables to coat.

Add stock, water, bay leaves, carrot, celery and 1 Tablespoon salt to pot. Bring to
a boil then drop to a simmer and cook about 30 minutes. Add cabbage, kale and
beans and cook until all vegetables are softened, about 30 minutes longer. Taste soup and adjust seasonings as desired.

Meanwhile, prepare chili oil: in a small pan set over very low heat, combine pepper flakes/dried chili and ½ cup oil. Allow oil and chili to heat slowly, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes or so. You want the flakes to 'pop' a bit and infuse the oil, but do not let the flakes burn.

To serve soup, place about ¼ cup cooked pasta into each bowl, ladle soup over, and top with a drizzle of chili oil and a sprinkling each of lemon zest, parsley and grated Parmesan.

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