Welcome to Never Fail, a weekly column where we wax poetic about the recipes that never, ever let us down.
For me, the end of daylight saving time means two things: The start of my seasonal affective disorder (s.a.d.!) and the start of soup season (yay!). It’s been less than a week since the clocks rolled back, and the liquids are already flowing. Simple ribollita? Finished the batch on Wednesday for lunch. Chicken and rice soup? Last night’s dinner. And I’m already planning for what’s coming next: kale minestrone with pistou.
Packed with vegetables (leeks, onions, carrots, celery), greens (kale), beans (cannellini), tomatoes (canned, duh), pancetta (just a bit for flavor), and potatoes (waxy Yukons take the place of pasta), it’s a hearty, satisfying pot of chunky deliciousness—the whole food pyramid in a single pot. (If you want to go completely vegetarian, the pig is optional; you won’t even miss it.)
Yes the ingredients are many—the recipe also includes the makings of a “pistou,” which is French for “pesto,” and an “herb sachet” a.k.a. “bouquet garni” (fancy speak for “some herbs tied up with string”)—but really, it’s just chopping. And you definitely don’t need to get precious with that: The beauty of minestrone is that it’s rustic and unfussy; the more imperfect it seems, the better and more appetizing it looks. It helps, too, that there’s a fresh herby drizzle to go on top, adding a bright shock of basil, garlic, parm, and lemon zest to the soup’s deep, developed flavors.
Best yet, this soup makes eight servings, which means if you’re not interested in sharing, that’s a whole week of really good soup right there. Because you know what else the onset of winter indicates? That it’s the time of year to get a little bit lazy (uh, I mean “cozy”), too.