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Minestrone

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November 14, 2007

Serves 8

1 cup dried cannellini or borlotti beans, soaked overnight and drained
2 teaspoons salt, and more to taste
3/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3 cups water
1 small leek, finely chopped
1/2 pound green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
2 medium zucchini, cut into small dice
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 cups (about 1 pound) fresh spinach leaves, stemmed and chopped

1. In a large, wide pot, combine the beans with water to cover them by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 1 hour or until the beans are tender. Add a generous pinch of salt at the end of cooking. Drain and reserve the cooking liquid. (This will yield 2 1/2 to 3 cups of cooked beans.)

2. In a flameproof casserole, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion and carrots. Cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook for 5 minutes longer. Add the water and bring to a boil.

3. Stir in the leek and green beans. Continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and tomatoes. Continue cooking for another 15 minutes. Taste for salt and add more, if you like.

4. Add the cooked beans, 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid, and the spinach. Continue cooking for 5 minutes. (The soup simmers for 45 minutes.) If the soup is too thick, add more cooking liquid. Remove the bay leaf.

GARNISH

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan, or more to taste

1. Ladle the soup into bowls.

2. Sprinkle each with olive oil and Parmesan. - Adapted from "The Art of Simple Food"

Notes:

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