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Playing White Minestrone


  • 1/2 pound dried white beans
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 pound meaty pancetta, diced
  • 1 large or 2 medium parsnips, peeled, chopped
  • 1 large or 2 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 1 parsley root, if available, peeled and chopped
  • 2 to 3 ribs celery with leafy tops, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Pepper
  • A small handful sage leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, stripped and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons thyme, chopped
  • 1 small or 1/2 medium white cabbage or 3/4 pound savoy, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 head escarole, thinly sliced
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 1 chunk of rind Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to serve
  • Minced white onion, to serve


Serves: 6


Soak beans overnight in water or quick soak them by covering them with boiling water and let stand 1 hour. Rinse beans and place them in pot, cover with 2 to 3 inches water. Add onion, bay leaf, bring to boil. Salt the beans and simmer, skimming as necessary.  Boil to tender, 45 minutes. Remove bay and onion. If beans have more than 1 cup liquid in them, drain. 
Heat a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil, 3 turns of the pan; add pancetta and render 2-3 minutes. Add root vegetables, onions, celery, garlic, salt and pepper, and cook to soften 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add cabbage and escarole, stir to wilt. Add stock, parm rind, beans and 2 to 3 cups water. Bring to a boil and simmer to combine flavors 30 minutes to 1 hour. Serve in shallow bowls topped with cheese, EVOO and minced onion.