This recipe really brings back so many wonderful childhood memories of dinners with my parents and older brother. My mom made this minestrone during Winter months only. Filled with beans, vegetables and Ditalini ("thimbals") pasta, it's sure to fill you up ... and warm you up on cold Winter nights! Make sure you have some good, crusty Italian bread when you make this!!
- 1 cup dried pinto beans (you can also use red kidney beans if you like)
- 3 cups beef broth
- 8 cups water
- 1 large potato; peeled & halved
- 2 medium carrots; peeled & halved
- 2 medium celery stalks; halved
- 1 lb Whole Smoked Pork Shoulder Butt Roast*
- 1 cup crushed Italian-style or whole tomatoes
- 3 Tbsp fresh parsley; chopped
- 2 garlic cloves; crushed
- 1 medium onion; halved
- 1/4-lb diced pancetta
- 1 10-oz pkg frozen mixed vegetables
- salt & freshly-ground pepper to taste
- 1 or 2 cups Ditalini pasta**
- Crusty Italian bread
- Grated Parmesan cheese
How to Make It:
- Put 4 cups of COLD water in a large pot. Warm the water slightly; DO NOT overheat or boil!
- Once the water is warm, add the beans and bring to a BOIL.
- Immediately add 4 more cups of COLD water and 3 cups of beef broth.
- Add ALL the vegetables, pork butt, salt & pepper.
- In a skillet, cook the diced pancetta until browned. Add the cooked pancetta (with the drippings) to the large pot.
- Cover and cook on medium heat for an hour.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables and put in a blender. Blend and return to pot. Repeat the process until most to all of the vegetables have been blended.
- LEAVE ABOUT HALF OF THE BEANS WHOLE (not blended).
- Bring to a boil and add 1 or 2 cups of the Ditalini pasta (if you want a THICKER soup, add 2 cups of Ditalini; if you want a THINNER soup, add only 1 cup of Ditalini).
- Stir frequently (so the Ditalini don't stick to the bottom of the pot).
- Continue cooking over medium heat for 10-12 minutes (or until pasta is done).
- Remove cooked pork butt and pull apart with a fork (shred), or cut into bite-sized chunks. Return to pot.
- Add grated parmesan cheese, if desired.
- Serve with warm, crusty Italian bread (broken into pieces and added to the soup in your plate), if desired.