Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

 

A satisfying feel-good soup to warm you up on a cold winters day. A tomato-vegetable soup base is loaded with sautéed carrots, celery, green beans, potatoes, legumes and pasta.

Minestrone Soup

Ingredients                                                          Makes: 6 servings
5 cups vegetable broth ~or~ chicken stock
2 cups stewed tomatoes ~or~ 1 large can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves ~or~ 1/4 tsp thyme powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 large bay leaf
pinch of hot pepper flakes (optional)
pinch of black pepper
1/3 tsp sea salt or to taste
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1/2 cup green beans, chopped
2 medium potatoes, chopped into 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup kidney beans, dried ~or~ 1 small can of prepared beans, rinsed (can substitute for: garbanzo beans/chickpeas, Great Northern beans or carnelli beans)
1 cup elbow pasta ~or~ small shell pasta, dry
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (optional garnish)
1/4 cup fresh parsley and/or basil leaves, chopped (garnish)

Instructions
Prepare the beans. If using canned beans, simply rinse the beans until the water runs clear, using a sieve. Transfer the rinsed beans to a bowl until ready.

Overnight soak. If cooking beans from dried, soak the beans the night before. Soaking helps to reduce the cooking time as well produces consistently tender beans. More importantly though, soaking beans also helps absorb and reduce the “gas-causing” substances found in beans. Put the dried beans in a soup pot and cover with purified water by about an inch and then cover. The next morning, drain the beans through a large sieve or colander and rinse clean.

Quick soak. Otherwise, the beans can be given a quick soak. In a medium-large soup pot, add the dried beans (3/4 cup) and about 5 cups of purified water. Bring the pot to a boil, and boil for a couple of minutes before turning off the heat, covering and allowing the beans to soak for at least a full hour up to 4 hours.

After the beans have soaked for at least an hour, drain the beans using a colander in a sink and then rinse the beans clean. Depending on what beans you are using and how old they are, they will vary on cooking time. Generally most dried beans will take 45 to 90 minutes to fully cook after a soak overnight or with a “quick soak”.

Cook the beans until they are tender. Test the beans for tenderness by squashing a couple of beans between a couple large spoons or against a hard surface, or better yet, taste test! When beans are fully cooked and tender, drain out the water using a colander in a sink. Transfer cooked beans to a bowl and cover until ready to use.

Prepare stock. In a large soup pot or dutch oven, add the vegetable or chicken stock and the stewed tomatoes. Add the seasonings which include: the thyme leaves or powder, the oregano, the sea salt and black pepper, the bay leaves and a pinch of hot pepper flakes. Heat up the stock to a light boil, then reduce to a low simmer and cover.

Prepare vegetables. Peal and then dice the onion and set aside in a small bowl. Mince the garlic cloves and also set aside in a small bowl.

Peal the carrots, cut off the ends and discard, then slice. Clean the celery, cut off the ends and discard, then slice. Cut the ends off the green beans and then chop into 1 to 1 1/2-inch pieces; transfer the beans, carrots and celery to a bowl together.

Clean 2 potatoes, cut out any “eyes” or sore spots, peel if desired. Chop the potatoes into 1-inch chunks and then transfer to bowl of their own.

Sauté vegetables. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and the diced onions. With wooden spatulas stir the onions on occasion to prevent burning. Cook the onions for about 5 minutes or until they turn translucent, then stir in the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute longer or until fragrant. Transfer cooked onions and garlic to the large soup pot with the simmering stock.

Add to the skillet another tablespoon of olive oil and increase the heat to medium. Add the bowl of sliced carrots, celery and beans to the pan and stir using wooden spoons to prevent burning. Cook the vegetables for about 4 minutes or until tender crisp. Transfer the cooked vegetables to a bowl until ready.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and this time the chopped potatoes. Increase the heat to medium-high, and stir the potatoes with the wooded spatulas regularly to prevent burning. Cook the potatoes to lightly brown all sides forming a leathery jacket on the outside of the potato. Cook the potatoes until tender but still firm. Turn off the heat and then transfer the potatoes to the simmering stock pot.

Add sautéed vegetables, beans and pasta to the simmering soup. Add the sautéed vegetables to the simmering stock along with the prepared beans, and pasta. Cook the soup until the pasta is fully cooked and al dente. Use the instructions on the pasta you are using. Otherwise, cook the soup for about 7 minutes before testing to see if the pasta is cooked, it may take up to 10 minutes; time will differ with different pasta types.

Taste test and serve. Taste test the soup and adjust any seasonings to suit taste. Remove the bay leaf. Serve with fresh sprigs of parsley and/or basil; as well some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (if desired). Enjoy!

Recipe shared by: J. Marshall

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