Winter Minestrone with Wheat Berries
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Kitchens
Prep time: 2 hours 20 mins
Cook time: 2 hours 30 mins
Total time: 4 hours 50 mins
A great minestrone calls for a blending of flavors and ingredients and should have the consistency of a good stew.
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 Cup cooked wheat berries; rinsed and drained * see Note below
  • 2 large red onions; cut 1/2" dice
  • 2 large celery stalks; cut 1/2" dice
  • 4 carrots; cut 1/2" dice
  • 1 baking potato; peeled, and cut into 1/2" dice
  • 2 zucchini; cut 1/2" dice
  • 1/2 pound piece green cabbage; diced
  • 1/4 pounds trimmed green beans; cut 1/2" pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/3 Cup minced fresh basil leaves
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with juice (14 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 can pinto beans (15 ounce); rinsed, drained, with 1/2 Cup pureed in food process
  • Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese rinds; several small rinds
  • water; as needed
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • extra-virgin olive oil; for serving
  • chopped basil leaves; for serving
  • freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano; for serving
  • dried red pepper flakes; for serving
  1. * NOTE: Once wheat berries are cooked and softened, they can be stored in the refrigerator for five days or frozen for up to one month.
The Wheat Berries
  1. To cook them, combine 1 Cup wheat berries and 3 Cups water in 2-quart pot.
  2. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until berries are tender to the bite, about 1 hour 15 minutes to 2 hours.
  3. Drain in colander and spread on paper towels until air-dried. You'll have about 2 1/2 to 3 Cups cooked berries.
  4. Store in airtight plastic bags.
The Minestrone
  1. Heat oil in 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add wheat berries, onions, celery, carrots, potato, zucchini, cabbage, green beans, garlic, rosemary and basil. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are mostly softened, about 20 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes and juice, whole and pureed beans, cheese rinds and 7 Cups water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Add more water to keep stew-like consistency.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be served immediately or cooled and refrigerated or frozen up to 3 days.)
  4. To serve, use tongs to remove rinds. Adjust seasonings. Ladle into warm soup bowls, lightly drizzle with oil and sprinkle with basil.
  5. Pass cheese and red pepper flakes.
Calories: 226 Fat: 6 g Fiber: 4.56 g Protein: 8 g Cholesterol: 0 g
You can vary the vegetables with the season, but never omit the rinds of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, which reinforce the soup's character. (Store rinds in freezer until you're ready to use them.) This soup is even better a day or two later.

Cheese rinds are found in the gourmet cheese section of your supermarket and can be cut off that solid piece of cheese purchased for grating or shaving. Look for pieces of cheese that have the rind but without wax.
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