Minestrone with Tomato and Fennel

What a fabulous way to enjoy a warm delicious soup that's not only comforting but also good for you! 

I thought maybe my toddler would slurp a few spoonfuls for dinner but I don't think he's a soup eater right now.  I'll keep trying. Meanwhile, my husband and I REALLY enjoyed it. 

*The neat thing about eating beans especially in soups is that if you use fennel or ginger in your recipe, either the fennel or ginger will counteract the "gassy" feeling. In this recipe, I used fennel.

Serves 6


  • 1 1/2 cups dried or 3 cans of beans such as a combo of cannellini beans, chickpeas and red beans
  • 2 bay leaves, divided
  • Salt
  • 3 to 4 pounds assorted tomatoes (coarsely chop larger tomatoes; leave small or cherry tomatoes whole.
  • (I use a mix of vine, roma and cherry tomatoes)
  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic, 3 to 4 crushed, 1 chopped
  • 3 tablespoons thyme, chopped
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil, 5 tablespoons divided
  • 1 large bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped into small dice (1/4 to 1/2 inch)
  • 1 onion (yellow)
  • 2-3 ribs celery with leafy tops chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 rind Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 
  • 2 packages of chopped pancetta (cubed)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried pasta, such as ditalini or elbow

1. If using dried beans, soak beans overnight in water or give them a quick soak by covering them with boiled water and letting them stand 1 hour. Rinse beans and place in a pot, cover with water, add one bay leaf and bring to boil. Salt water and cook beans to tender, 35-40 minutes. Puree half the beans with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Reserve the remaining beans, leaving them whole, plus 2 cups of their cooking liquid. 

If using canned, drain and rinse. Set aside 1/2 of all the beans in one bowel and puree the other 1/2 of beans. Set aside.

2. Preheat ovent to 375 degrees. Place a rack in the center of the oven. Scatter the tomatoes on a baking sheet along with crushed garlic cloves, thyme, salt and pepper. Coat with about 3 tablespoons of oil and toss to combine. Roast until garlic is brown at the edges, the small tomatoes have burst and chopped tomatoes have become saucy, 45 minutes to an hour.

Then mash all tomatoes with a wooden spoon or potato masher.

3. Add a few tablespoons olive oil to a soup pot over medium to medium high heat.
Add fennel, onion, celery, carrots, chopped garlic, the remaining bay leaf, some salt and pepper, and stir 8-10 minutes to soften a bit. 

4. Add stock, cheese rind, whole beans and their cooking liquid, the pureed beans and tomatoes. Simmer the soup gently to combine flavors, adding water if the soup is too thick

5. Meanwhile, cook pancetta on stove on medium high to low heat until crisp. 

6. Just before serving, cook small cut pasta in salted water to al dente. Keep separate from soup so it does not overcook in the broth. To serve, place a little past in each bowl, top with soup and sprinkle pancetta and cheese.

Viola! Enjoy!

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