Eggplant Parm and Big Minestrone with Borlotti Beans
We had eggplant Parm, and I also made a big Minestrone with Borlotti Beans.
Eggplant Parm: This was my usual eggplant Parm that I made with eggplants from my garden. They are white to light purple and they’re so tender I don’t even peel them. But instead of making the sauce with canned tomatoes, I actually roasted some of my garden tomatoes. I put the oven on 425°F and I roasted a sheetful of heirloom and plum tomatoes (drizzled with EVOO, seasoned with salt, pepper and a couple tablespoons of thyme). They were in there 35 to 40 minutes until they started to brown at the edges and burst open. I roasted a head of garlic at the same time and added that to the sauce.
Minestrone with Borlotti Beans
For the pasta that I put in the minestrone, I used “fantasy pasta.” Caterina, my Italian teacher, gave us a bag of beautiful pasta from the Lakes region of Italy. It was pasta that was naturally dyed with vegetables, so the pasta was the color of beets and carrots and spinach and tomatoes. There was also yellow and black pasta from saffron and squid ink. Very colorful.
- 1 cup borlotti beans, soaked overnight
- 1 small onion, 1 halved (unpeeled)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 cup EVOO
- 1 small fresh red chile, chopped
- 1/2 pound very small zucchini, diced
- 1 or 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 small onions, chopped
- 3 ribs celery
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- Salt and pepper
- 2 1/2 cups finely shredded white cabbage
- 2 1/2 cups finely shredded lacinato kale (also called black, Tuscan, or dinosaur kale)
- 7 cups chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cups passata or tomato puree (see Note)
- A small piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind
- 2 cups cooked ditalini or other very small pasta shape, for serving
- EVOO, for serving
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
Cook the beans: Drain the beans, put them in a pot, add the onion halves, cover with fresh water, and bring to a boil. Season with salt and cook until they’re just tender, about 35 minutes. Drain the beans (discard the onion) and transfer half to a food processor. Add the chicken stock and puree. Set aside the puree and whole beans.
Make the soup: In a soup pot, heat the EVOO (4 turns of the pan) over medium to medium-high heat. Add the chile and and let that brown a little bit. Stir in the carrots, onions, celery, and garlic. Add the thyme, sage, rosemary, and bay leaf, season with a little salt and pepper, and let that sweat out, partially covered, to start to tenderize the vegetables.
Add the cabbage and kale to the pot and wilt them into the other vegetables. Add the chicken stock, 2 cups water, the passata, Parm rind, and the pureed and whole beans. Partially cover and simmer gently until the flavor develops and all the greens are nice and tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
To serve, put a little pasta in the bottom of everyone’s bowl. Pour the vegetable soup down over the top. Drizzle on a little EVOO and sprinkle with a little freshly grated Parm.
Because I was already roasting some tomatoes for the eggplant Parm, I made extra and smashed them to use instead of the passata here. I used about 2 cups, because it wasn’t as thick as passata would be.