I’m sharing a couple of road trip-inspired recipes. Earlier this week, I shared a Lemon Garlic Wings recipe from the menu at Canal Park Brewery in Duluth, MN. Next up is this hearty and comforting Minestrone Soup from Michigan House Cafe in Calumet, MI.

Minestrone SoupMinestrone SoupThe drive from Chicago to Copper Harbor, Michigan was about 7 hours and although I love road trips, I also love taking delicious breaks. We decided to stop at Michigan House Cafe and Red Jacket Brewing Co. in Calumet before finishing the last hour of the drive.

It was a dreary day with gentle, but steady rain. It kind of made me wish I was on my couch with a cozy blanket. As we bellied-up to the long and rustic wood bar, I saw the bartender carrying a big bowl of soup to another customer. I could smell the vegetables as he passed by and I immediately ordered a bowl.

Minestrone SoupThink about big chucks of veggies and a touch of red pepper flakes for a little extra heat. I have enjoyed several versions of Minestrone before, but this one had everything going for it from the comforting flavors to the aesthetic of a rainy, fall day.

When you make the recipe it smells amazing as it’s simmering and tastes delicious right off the stove. However, since it makes a lot, you will definitely have leftovers and I have to say, it tasted even better the next day.



  • 8 ounces Cannellini beans
  • 3 ounces of pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, extra for serving
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 small onions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 small head of green cabbage, halved, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Parmesan cheese rind, plus grated Parmesan for serving
  • 1-1/2 cups good tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil, plus more for garnish


  1. Heat pancetta and oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pancetta is lightly browned and fat has rendered, 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add celery, carrot, onions, zucchini and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 5-9 minutes.
  4. Stir in cabbage, garlic, pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and continue to cook until the cabbage starts to wilt, 1-2 minutes longer.
  5. Transfer vegetables and pancetta to a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
  6. Add beans, water, broth and Parmesan rind to a pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
  7. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes to an hour.
  8. Add tomato juice and reserved pancetta and vegetables to the pot and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes.
  9. Discard Parmesan rind, stir in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Serve with extra virgin olive oil, grated Parmesan and basil.


The Minestrone can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat gently and add basil just before serving.


All images © Regan Baroni 2016.

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