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I love minestrone, but am concerned that it doesn't contain enough protein. It usually contains pasta, tomato, zucchini, savoy cabbage, carrots and garlic.

What could I add to enhance the protein content while retaining the taste and feel of the soup?

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Just out of curiosity: why do you want to change the soup, if you like it as it is? Isn't it easier to just have a lean steak as a second course? –  rumtscho Jun 11 '11 at 13:43
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@rumtscho: That had actually never crossed my mind. I was dead-set on eating just a single course for time concerns, but cooking a steak doesn't take much time. –  Tim N Jun 11 '11 at 14:08
    
a cured meat eaten cold is an even quicker protein source, if you don't mind the sodium and the expense. A high-protein soup is also tasty, it just changes your recipe a lot. –  rumtscho Jun 11 '11 at 20:44

3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I noticed you didn't mention beans, which are fairly common in minestrone.

Cannellini beans are most typical, but you could experiment with others (garbanzo, fava beans, etc.)

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+1 Cannellini beans are traditional, though they are not the highest protein bean out –  TFD Jun 11 '11 at 11:25
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Thanks, I didn't know that beans were traditionally included. –  Tim N Jun 11 '11 at 11:28
    
Beans are really good in this, mine generally starts out as stock from boiled ham/gammon or a ham bone so the beans balance out the natural saltiness. –  vwiggins Jun 13 '11 at 13:25

I use to add old parmigiano crusts (cleaned with a brush) and/or a 10cm cube of prosciutto, just before the soup starts to boil.

The parmesan left on the crust will melt and blend to the soup, while the crusts will become tender and flavory.
The fat in the prosciutto will melt blend to the soup too, while the prosciutto block will cook in a delicious way.

For both additions, remember to use less salt in the soup, because both prosciutto and parmigiano are salty.


My mother used to add these ingredients sometimes, both in minestrone and bean soup, I guess she learned it from her mother, and I keep doing it too.

Or, if you're in a hurry or don't want to add any of those ingredients, you could, at serving, add cubed swiss cheese to the bowls, and/or a couple of spoons of fresh grated parmesan.

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+1 : My mom used to save the rinds of hard cheeses (wrapped, bagged, and put in the freezer), for when she'd be making soups ... it really does add a lot of flavor. She'd use bones, shrimp shells ... so many things that today people think of as trash rather than great flavorings. –  Joe Jun 15 '11 at 1:46

It will be difficult to add protein while maintaining authenticity, as minestrone is a vegetable soup, and your main sources of protein are meat and fish. You might add some roasted, shredded chicken to keep a rustic feel, or perhaps some tofu cubes. Or you could grate plenty of fresh parmesan on top.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with having one or two meals without much protein either.

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That's a pretty narrow view of protein sources? Vegetables have some protein too. Tomato, cabbage, etc it all adds up –  TFD Jun 11 '11 at 11:24
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@TFD tomatoes, zucchini, cabbage and carrots have 1g protein per 100g each. Cooked pasta has 3g protein per 100g. If we assume equal quantities of everything, plus twice as much water as veggies, we are looking at 5g protein per liter of soup. If @Tim Nordenfur really wants to increase the protein content to some significant level, veggies are out of the question, except for some seeds (e.g. the aforementioned beans). –  rumtscho Jun 11 '11 at 13:33

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