Updated: Aug 14
Disclaimer: This dish contains meat as I cooked it for the family. My parents, husband and a cousin all eat meat. I left some without meat for myself.
Check out my post How My Ancestors Fed Large Families During The Depression And Then The War Years and see what minestra is.
It was a cool, rainy day on Long Island. Perfect day for a big pot of whatever ingredients you have on hand or leftover. This dish never comes out the same twice. Below is what I did yesterday.
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Start by preparing your escarole. To see how to clean the escarole, visit this blog post.
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Peel, wash and chop yellow onion, carrots, red onion, celery, and potatoes. I chop everything into bite sized pieces. I prefer on the smaller side, but, chop as you see fit. (see vide0)
Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil. Heat oil and pour vegetables into pot. Stir until coated with oil. Lower heat, add salt to taste and then cover the pot. Stir often. As the vegetables cook, cut your garlic. (see vide0)
When the vegetables are softening, add the garlic, stir well and allow to cook. Make sure it doesn't brown, it will get bitter. Add in two boxes of gluten free vegetable stock - broth - and about 2 cups of water. Stir well, cover and allow to cook. Lower heat if it's boiling too hard. Stir often. (see vide0)
Once your escarole is clean, chop it into small pieces. Add to soup once the vegetables are fairly soft. Stir and cover. I didn't cook the escarole separately, instead, I cooked it right in the same pot. Stir often. (see vide0)
IF YOU ARE ADDING MEAT: My mom had spiral sausage she wanted me to use, so I brushed olive oil on each side and cooked it for 8 minutes on each side in the air fryer. If you don't have an air fryer you can do this in your regular oven or toaster oven. (see vide0)
As the sausage is cooking, wash your fresh spinach. I use my salad spinner. You can use any method you like. Add the spinach to the pot, stir together well, cover and allow to cook. (see vide0)
I chose to add another box of vegetable broth. Depending on how much you are making, you may need to add more.
Add in all the beans. DON'T drain or rinse the beans. Add the liquid into the pot, it adds flavor. Stir well and cover the pot. Lower to a simmer. (see vide0)
I added in leftover white rice. You can add white rice, flavored rice or small cuts of pasta. It's your choice. Then I separated some into another pot for myself, so I could add the meat into the larger pot. (see vide0)
I removed the first spiral sausage and put the second in to cook in the air fryer. I cut the sausage into small bite sized pieces. It was still a little pink inside. That's ok. It will fully cook in the pot. Add the sausage to the pot, stir and cover and allow to simmer. (see vide0)
The first picture is my mom's bowl with the sausage. The second is my vegetarian bowl.
This holds up well in the refrigerator and reheats well . It generally tastes even better the next day. It can feed a lot of people. My parents, husband and cousin ate it with toasted Kaiser rolls. There's enough leftover for several meals during the week and I set a nice sized bowl home with my cousin. My dad loves it for lunch sometimes.
This dish can be made with anything you have hanging around the house. Throw in any meat you like, combine meats such as pork, chicken, beef. Add in any vegetables you like. It's a great dish, inexpensive, easy to make, you don't waste leftovers and you fill hungry bellies. A great one pot meal.
Ingredients I had in the house:
Gluten free vegetable stock
Sausage - or any meat of your choice if desired - you can use more than one meat
Pinto beans YOU CAN USE ANY BEANS YOU WANT
Red kidney beans