Usually my minestrone soup has pasta in it. But I read on Italian Food Forever that it can be thickened with potatoes or even bread, depending upon the chef or time of year. So I decided to put potatoes in mine this time. This was fantastic soup and the potatoes were an improvement over the pasta because they don't swell up and take over the entire pot the next day. When I do pasta, I have to keep it out of the soup and put spoonfuls in each serving.
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
4 oz country ham trimmings, diced (about 3/4 cup)
2 large or 3 medium carrots, diced (about 1 heaping cup)
3 ribs celery, diced
2 leeks or 1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves fresh garlic, smashed and minced
4 C chicken stock –use low sodium, if canned
2 C water
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1-28 oz can whole tomatoes, chopped with juice
1 15.8 oz can great northern beans (or any bean of your choice), drained and rinsed
2 C potatoes, diced
2 C cabbage, chopped
Heat olive oil and country ham in a 5 or 6 quart pot over medium-high heat until the ham begins to brown. Add carrots, celery and leeks or onions. Cook, stirring constantly, until the vegetables become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook and stir for another minute. Add stock and water, rosemary, basil, pepper flakes and black pepper.
Salt to taste. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for about an hour.
Add tomatoes, beans, potatoes and cabbage. Bring back to a simmer and allow to cook another 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are cooked to your liking.