Italian Minestrone Panade

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Italian Minestrone Panade

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Published prior to 2008

A panade is a happy marriage of soup and bread. The most simple panade is made by pouring hot meat or vegetable broth over slices of chewy peasant-type bread, then stirring until the bread and broth become one very thick, still somewhat chunky soup. Butter and/or egg yolks, whisked in at the end, make a richer soup.

The following panade pairs thick Italian minestrone soup and plain homemade Italian bread. The enrichment comes, in this case, when each person adds good, fruity olive oil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese to their bowl of soup at the table. The result is a combination of vegetables and oil and bread and cheese which, as Brinna says, "satisfies every different part of your tongue."

The process of making this panade is long, but not time-consuming. On day 1, bake the bread, slice it and set it out to get nice and dry. Put the beans in the water to soak. On day 2, make the soup. On day 3, assemble the panade.

9 cups chicken or beef stock, canned or homemade
1 1/2 cups dried white beans (Great Northern or navy)
3/4 cup olive oil
3 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups (about 12 ounces) fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cups diced zucchini (1/2-inch dice)
3 cups coarsely chopped cabbage (about 3/4 lb.; about 1/3 of a 2-pound cabbage)
1 1/2 cups diced carrots (about 2 large)
1 1/2 cups diced celery (4 to 6 small to medium stalks)
1 1/2 cups diced potato (1/2-inch dice)
1 1/2 cups chopped Italian plum tomatoes, fresh or canned
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary*
2 teaspoons salt (approximately)
black pepper to taste
homemade Italian bread (your favorite recipe)

Place dried beans in a large bowl. Cover with water (water should cover beans by at least 2 inches), and let soak overnight. In the morning, remove any beans which look dark or wrinkled, and drain off any water which hasn't been absorbed.

Heat oil in a large saucepan or stock pot. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring, till onion is golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in green beans, zucchini, cabbage, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Add potatoes, tomatoes, soaked beans, and stock. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to low, partially cover soup and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3 hours. Vegetables will be very soft.

Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Reserve 6 cups of soup for the panade, and serve the rest immediately, if desired.

Making the Panade

Place 6 cups minestrone in refrigerator overnight. The bread you made and sliced the day before should be in the process of getting nicely stale.

Next day, if bread is not totally stale and crisp, heat it in a slow (300°F) oven until it is very dry. Heat 6 cups minestrone to boiling. Break dry bread slices into 1-inch pieces. Place one-third of bread in a large bowl; spoon about one-third of minestrone over bread. Place half of remaining bread atop minestrone; top with half of remaining soup. Finally, put the last of the bread atop soup in bowl, and top with last of soup. Soup should just cover bread; use the back of a large spoon to smooth surface of panade.

Let panade sit at room temperature until barely warm. Spoon into serving bowls. Drizzle olive oil over each serving, and top with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 6 to 8.

This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 3, January-February 1992 issue.