MINESTRONE ALLA CONTADINA – Tuscan vegetable soup

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This standard Tuscan “country” minestrone usually includes such vegetables as Savoy cabbage, kale, and cannellini beans. The ingredients should cook long enough for flavor and body to develop. It is often served over slices of day-old Tuscan bread with grated Parmigiano, OO and freshly sliced raw red onion on top. It is always made in large quantity so that there will be enough left over to make “ribollita” the next day.

  • 8 oz. dried cannellini beans
  • 3 oz. chunk of prosciutto (bone or end), and/or a thick slice of pancetta
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 carrots
  • 8 sprigs parsley
  • 6 T. OO
  • 1/2 small head Savoy cabbage
  • 1 1/2 bunch kale
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 C. tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 7-8 oz. canned tomatoes with their liquid
  • 1 small bunch Swiss chard
  • Parmigiano, freshly grated
  • OO
  • red onion, coarsely chopped


Soak the beans overnight in an abundant amount of water. The next day, drain the beans and cook in 2 qts. of water with the prosciutto. Bring the water to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. As the beans absorb water, keep adding more water to retain the 2qts. of broth. Remove from the heat when the beans are tender.

Coarsely chop the onion, celery, garlic, carrots and parsley. Sauté these vegetables in OO for about 12-15 min. Transfer to a large soup pot.

Finely slice the cabbage. Remove the stems from the kale and cut the stems into small pieces, chop the leaves. Peel the potatoes and cut into small cubes. Add the cabbage, kale, potatoes and tomatoes to the soup pot. Cover and simmer for 15 min., adding just enough water (or preferably broth that the beans have cooked in) to keep the vegetables wet. Then add the Swiss chard, stems cut up.

Remove the prosciutto from the beans. Puree 2/3 of the beans into the stock pot and simmer together until the greens are almost cooked (about 30 min.). Drain the remaining beans and reserve. Add the bean broth to the stock pot little by little until all of the broth is used. When the greens are tender, add the reserved whole beans.

Season to taste. Serve hot with a grating of Parmigiano, a drizzle of OO and some freshly sliced raw red onion.