When I was a little girl, my parents would often take us on a ride out to Bodega Bay. The highlight of these trips was always a stop at a little Italian dive restaurant where we would get minestrone soup. After a day at the beach nothing tasted better than the warm, hearty soup. To re-create these memories, I now enjoy making minestrone in my own kitchen.
It's a classic soup that is simple to prepare and always delicious. It's wonderful as a first course or scrumptious as an entrée. I found two recipes one is easy and quick, and the other is difficult and slow. If you are short on time, prepare the beginner, but if you have a Sunday stretched out in front of you, give the expert version a whirl. For both vegetarian recipes all you have to do is
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. dried savory
1/4 tsp. ground sage
1 quart vegetable broth
1 cup 100-percent vegetable juice (such as V-8)
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 can (8 1/4 oz.) sliced carrots, drained
1 can (4 oz.) sliced mushrooms, drained
1 can (8 1/4 oz.) cut green beans, drained
1 cup canned diced tomatoes (no salt added), diced
1 cup canned navy beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add onion and sauté until transparent, about 2 minutes.
- Add garlic, Italian seasoning, savory and sage, and cook 10 seconds. Add broth, vegetable juice, and vinegar and bring to a boil.
- Add carrots, mushrooms, green beans, tomatoes, and beans; simmer 4 to 5 minutes.
- Serve in bowls garnished with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Nutritional Information Per Serving: Calories 99; Total fat 1g; Saturated fat 0g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 550mg; Carbohydrate 16g; Fiber 2g; Protein 4g; Vitamin A 5 percent DV*; Vitamin C 10 percent DV*; Folate 8 percent DV*; Calcium 3 percent DV*; Iron 4 percent DV*; Potassium 10 percent DV*
1/2-lb. dried cannellini beans
1 dried bay leaf
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced crosswise 1/4-in. thick
1 celery stalk, sliced crosswise 1/4-in. thick
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
1 cup whole canned tomatoes, with their juice, crushed
1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium russet potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 bunch kale (preferably Tuscan), thick stems removed, and leaves cut crosswise into 1-in. ribbons (about 8 cups)
3-in. piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind, plus grated Parmigiano- Reggiano, for serving
1 tbsp. coarse salt, plus more if needed
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more if needed
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh sage
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- Place beans in a medium bowl. Add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Let soak overnight. Drain, and set aside.
- In a large pot, combine 8 cups of water, drained beans, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, until beans are almost tender, about 1 hour.
- In a medium sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, carrot, celery, rosemary, and 2 tsp. thyme. Cook, covered, until onions begin to soften, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 minutes. Add vegetable mixture to beans.
- Stir in squash, potato, kale, cheese rind, salt, and pepper. Add enough water to just cover (about 6 cups), and bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, until potatoes and beans are tender, about 25 minutes.
- If desired, to thicken the soup, use the back of a spoon, to mash about 2 cups of beans, squash, and potato against the side of the pot.
- Add sage, remaining teaspoon of thyme, and crushed red pepper. Taste, and adjust for seasoning.
- Garnish with grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired. Serve immediately.