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Minestrone Soup Two Ways — Beginner and Expert

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

Beginner Minestrone
From Mealtime

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)

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and sauté until transparent, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, Italian seasoning, savory and sage, and cook 10 seconds. Add broth, vegetable juice, and vinegar and bring to a boil.
  4. Add carrots, mushrooms, green beans, tomatoes, and beans; simmer 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Serve in bowls garnished with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Serves 8.

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*

Expert Minestrone
From Martha Stewart

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

  1. Place beans in a medium bowl. Add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Let soak overnight. Drain, and set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Stir in tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 minutes. Add vegetable mixture to beans.
  5. Stir in squash, potato, kale, cheese rind, salt, and pepper. Add enough water to just cover (about 6 cups), and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, until potatoes and beans are tender, about 25 minutes.
  7. 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.
  8. Add sage, remaining teaspoon of thyme, and crushed red pepper. Taste, and adjust for seasoning.
  9. Garnish with grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired. Serve immediately.

Serves 8–10.

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