Minestrone is an Italian way to say love with a warming soup chock full of good-for-you foods like beans, pasta, and vegetables floating in a succoring broth.
The word minestrone comes from the Greek minestra, meaning to serve, and by extension, to minister to. The soup shows up in homey cooking around the world. In some of its tastiest renditions it is accented with a dollop of a pesto, like basil pesto (in an Italian version) or rouille (in France’s renowned soup au pistou). Since I’m on the kale bandwagon, the pesto here is made with kale and called a mash. The wild rice makes it a kind of American minestrone. For another legumey soup sparked with kale, see the Lentil and Kale Soup with Salted Lemon Rounds post.
Serves 4 to 6
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and coarsely chopped
1 large or 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts thinly sliced, rinsed clean, and drained
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 scant teaspoon dried marjoram
5 cups chicken broth
3 cups filtered water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/3 cup wild rice
Hunk of Parmesan rind (approximately 2 x 2 x 1/4-inch, optional, see Note)
2 cups cooked white beans, such as Great Northerns, borlotti, or navy beans
Kale Mash, for serving (see the sidebar)
12 to 18 baguette toasts, for serving
12 to 18 anchovy fillets, for serving
1. Combine the olive oil, garlic, leeks, and salt in a large pot over medium heat, stir to mix, and cook until the leeks are wilted but not browned, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the marjoram, broth, water, tomato paste, and wild rice and stir to mix. Drop in the hunk of Parmesan rind, if using, and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the rice is opened out and tender, 40 minutes or so.
3. While the soup simmers, make the kale mash.
4. When the rice is cooked, add the beans to the pot, along with one or two cups of their cooking liquid if you have cooked the beans yourself. Bring back to a boil over medium-high heat before serving.
5. To serve, spread a thin layer of kale mash across each toast and top each with an anchovy filet. Ladle the soup into individual bowls, garnish with a dollop of kale mash in the center, and place the toasts around the outside.
Note, which is actually more of a tip: Italian cooks swear by dropping a hunk of Parmesan cheese rind into the minestrone as it cooks to enrich it, some say. beyond even needing chicken or other broth, and I always follow that tip.