Tomato-less Minestrone, Italian Style

I’ve always had a thing for Minestrone soup. The first time I remember trying it was at a quaint little Italian restaurant in Laguna Beach called Salerno’s when I was 12 years old. I loved it then almost as much as I love it now.

A recent month-long trip to Italy, however, rekindled my love for this Italian classic with one big difference: no tomatoes!

Ever since I can remember, Minestrone was tomato, bean and veggie heavy, but my days in Capri showed me how simple this soup can really be. Inspired by my meals at Ristorante La Capannina and Aurora, here is my recipe below. Enjoy!

| INGREDIENTS |

¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 medium Yellow Onion, chopped

2 cups Heirloom Carrots, chopped

2 cups Celery, chopped

1 Yukon Gold Potato, peeled and cut into ¾ inch chunks

½ cup Short Grain Brown Rice

3 cloves Minced Garlic

1 Bay Leaf

1 tablespoon Fresh De-stemmed Thyme

¼ teaspoon Fennel Seeds, crushed

6 cups Chicken Bone Broth

¼ cup Fresh Parsley, chopped

¾ teaspoon Salt, divided into 3 parts

Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Parmesan Cheese, grated for garnish

| ASSEMBLY |

1 | Heat the oil in a pot on medium high heat. Saute the veggies in the olive oil, adding ¼ teaspoon of salt and cooking until light brown (about 8 minutes). Add the minced garlic and another ¼ teaspoon of salt and cook for 1 more minute.

2 | Add the bay leaf, thyme, fennel seeds, ¼ teaspoon of salt, rice and chicken bone broth. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes, partially covered.

3 | Add the parsley, ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper, or to taste. Cook for a couple more minutes. Remove bay leaf.

4 | Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and a side of naturally fermented sourdough bread.

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