Minestra (Soupe Paysanne)
Region: France, Corsica
Difficulty: Easy but long cooking time
This is the most famous of all the Corsican soups. Shepherds would take some leftover with them into the mountains to eat cold. Besides the vegetables in the recipe below (the potatoes and tomato from the New World), some cooks also use carrots, celery, zucchini, leeks, and dandelion depending on the season. The soup is simply called minestra which in the Corsican culinary pantheon is simple soupe paysanne, country soup. Although it's called a soup, it's meant to be so thick you could eat it with a fork.
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 8 servings
Preparation Time: 3 hours
1. In a large casserole or soup pot, cook the pork fat over medium-high heat until there is some fat in the bottom of the pot, about 5 minutes, stirring, then add the potatoes, cabbage, chard, onion, and garlic until the greens are wilted, about 5 minutes. Pour in the water, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, add the beans, ham or smoked bacon, and tomato, and cook until the beans are tender, 2 to 3 hours.
2. Add the slices of bread or lasagna and continue to cook until a spoon can stand straight up in the center of the soup and, if using lasagna, the pasta is tender, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.