This isn’t my minestrone soup recipe. A big thank you to National Geographic for sharing their recent book, Blue Zones, The Science of Living Longer. The recipe doesn’t come from an old cookbook, BUT, the recipe is really old. This soup (or a similar version) is a lunch recipe from the Melis family (from Sardinia, aka a Blue Zone). They are the world’s longest-lived family and hold the Guinness world record for the highest combined age of any nine siblings, at 828 years! Holy cannoli – that’s old, right? The ingredients and the preparation scream “back yard garden”. SO I’m totally justified in including it on my blog. Right?
You’ll need fennel (smells like licorice), garlic (smells like heaven), fava and cranberry beans, chickpeas, olive oil (duh-it’s a mediterranean dish), onion, carrots, celery, tomatoe, yellow potatoes, flat-leaf parsley, basil leaves, Sardinian fregola (or couscous or acini di pepe), salt, pepper AND cheese (oh yessssss).
The fava and cranberry beans came from a specialty market. Feel free to replace the fava beans with great northern or cannellini beans and/or replace the cranberry beans with pinto beans.
I used couscous instead of fregola (pasta).
Check your fridge and throw in other leftover veggies like zucchini, cabbage, green beans, cauliflower or broccoli.
And find goggles. Wait. What?
My youngest has come up with the brilliant idea to wear goggles when cutting up onions. You go, girl.
Here’s the whole kit and caboodle:
Soak the dry beans 8 to 16 hours. If you are using fresh beans, no need to soak. Drain and rinse.
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, warm 3 Tb olive oil. Add onion, carrots, celery and cook about 5 minutes until soft.
Add garlic and cook about 20 seconds.
Stir in crushed tomatoe, potatoes, fennel, parsley, basil beans and chickpeas. Add enough water to submerge about an inch (6-8 cups).
Bring to a full boil. Reduce to low and simmer uncovered until the beans are tender, about 1.5 hours.
Stir in the fregola, couscous or ancini de pepe, salt and pepper and continue simmering about 10 minutes. Add water if needed.
Add 1 Tb of olive oil per serving bowl. Top with 1 Tb grated cheese.
Live to be 100.
- ½ cup Fava beans
- ½ cup dried cranberry beans
- ⅓ cup dried chickpeas
- 7 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped, (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (about ⅔ cup)
- 2 medium celery stalks, chopped (1/2 cup)
- 2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes (about 3⅔ cups)
- 3 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1½ cups)
- 1½ cups chopped fennel
- ¼ cup loosely packed fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
- ⅔ cup of Sardinian fregola, Israeli couscous, or acini di pepe pasta
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup finely grated pecorino Romano (about 2 ounces)
- Soak the fava beans, cranberry beans, and chickpeas in a large bowl of water for at least 8 hours or up to 16 hours. Drain in a colander set in the sink.
- Warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery; cook, stirring often, until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds.
- Stir in the tomatoes, potatoes, fennel, parsley, and basil, as well as the drained beans and chickpeas. Add enough water (6 to 8 cups) so that everything is submerged by 1 inch.
- Raise the heat to high, and bring to a full boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly, uncovered, until the beans are tender, adding more water as necessary if the mixture gets too thick, about 1½ hours.
- Stir in the fregola or other pasta, salt, and pepper.
- Add up to 2 cups water if the soup seems too dry. Continue simmering, uncovered, until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes.
- Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into each of four serving bowls. Divide the soup among them, and top each with 1 tablespoon of the grated cheese.