Nick’s Italian Cafe Minestrone SoupOctober 26, 2009 at 1:05 am | Posted in Soup | 29 Comments
Nick’s Italian Cafe is just about my favorite restaurant on earth. Just something about good times, good food with good friends make for good memories. Nick’s Italian Cafe has been feeding Oregon wine country since 1977 and serves up entrees that compliment the state’s signature wines of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. You can check out the menu by clicking HERE
Saveur Magazine did an article on Nick’s a few years ago. When we were there last summer I took this photo of the article proudly framed and displayed on the wall.
I love this quote from the owner, Nick Peirano, who thinks that simple connections are at the center of everything. “Cooking is a craft, not an art,” he says. “It’s fuel for the body and, hopefully, for the spirit. It’s like the difference between pottery and fine art. Food should always think of itself as pottery. Architectural food drives me nuts. Food has to recognize it’s serving a basic need.”
Since that article was printed Nick’s daughter, who has been in culinary training in San Francisco, has now taken over the kitchen. I think she’s gradually sneaking in a little bit of that art 😉
Included in this article was a reprint of Nick’s signature Minestrone Soup. I made this soup this weekend and I must say, it’s delicious. Remember when I said I have an arsenal of soups, some easy and some extravaganza’s??? Well this falls into the extravaganza category and well worth it.
Coarse cut vegetables and place in a food processor and pulse until chopped. I messed up and put all three carrots in at the first. There should only be one, adding two later.
Place chopped vegetables, parsley and salt pork in a large soup pot. Look at those fresh vibrant colors.
Serve the soup with fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Yum.
Here’s the full recipe:
This soup, a longtime fixture on the prix fixe menu at Nick’s Italian Café in McMinnville, Oregon, is served tableside from a tureen and topped with a generous spoonful of fragrant, freshly made pesto. “The heat,” Nick explained, “makes the aroma rise.” After the bowls are filled, the vessel is left on the table so that guests can help themselves to more, if they like.
FOR THE SOUP:
3 carrots, peeled and trimmed
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and
1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, cored, seeded,
and coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
Leaves of 1/4 bunch parsley
1/2 lb lean salt pork
1 14 1/2-oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup beef stock base
1/4 cup dried basil
1 Tbs dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb string beans, trimmed and
cut into 1″ pieces
1 1/4 cups shelled fresh or frozen peas
FOR THE PESTO:
Leaves of 1/2 bunch basil
Leaves of 1/2 bunch parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino romano
1 tsp pine nuts
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. For the soup: Coarsely chop 1 of the carrots and put into a food processor. Add onions, celery, peppers, and garlic, pulse until vegetables are finely chopped, then transfer to a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add parsley, salt pork, and 3 quarts water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 6 hours.
2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer salt pork to a food processor, then process until fat liquefies and meat turns into a paste, about 30 seconds. Pass salt pork through a sieve back into pot, using a rubber spatula to press as much paste through the sieve as possible. Skim off and discard fat from broth. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock base, basil, and oregano to pot. Season to taste with 1 tsp. pepper and simmer over medium-low heat, covered, for 2 hours.
3. Add 4 cups water to pot, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, thinly slice remaining carrots crosswise, then add to pot. Add green beans and peas, reduce heat to medium, and simmer soup, partially covered, until carrots, beans, and peas are soft, about 30 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. For the pesto: Put basil, parsley, parmigiano-reggiano, pecorino romano, pine nuts, and oil into a food processor and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Put soup into a warm tureen, if you like, and spoon pesto into soup. Serve soup in warm bowls garnished with some freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano and pecorino romano, if you like.