Minestrone, probably the most popular soup to come out of Italy, is also one of the most varied; basically any vegetable soup with Italian seasonings can be called minestrone. There are countless recipes for minestrone, and no one is better or more traditional than the other. What you put in your minestrone really should depend, first and foremost, on what is in season; after that, it is up to personal preference. Assorted vegetables, beans, and macaroni or other small pasta are all common to minestrone. The one requirement when serving minestrone, however, is a topping of freshly grated parmesan. My recipe, meant to be made in the winter, calls for tomato paste and dried herbs but, certainly use fresh tomatoes and herbs if they are in season. Try serving this soup peasant-style by ladling it directly over a slice of toasted country bread. Or, you can serve it simply with slices of warm bread on the side. Either way, it is a delicious meal in one!
Thick Slices of Whole-Grain Country Bread
Simple Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 large potato, cubed
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
salt and pepper
1 cup cooked kidney or garbanzo beans
1/3 pound green beans, cut into 1 inch lengths (about 1-1/2 cups)
1/2 cup macaroni, orzo, or other small pasta
1/2 cup frozen peas or corn (or a combination of both)
1 cup of chopped cabbage or other sturdy greens
freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cooking Instructions

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the onion and cook for about five minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to turn translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute longer. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the tomato paste, potato, dried herbs, and salt and pepper to taste, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes.

Add the beans, green beans and pasta and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the frozen peas or corn and cabbage or other greens and cook until all of the vegetables are tender and the pasta is cooked through. Check for seasonings and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve the soup in bowls sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Makes 6 servings



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Save the leftover rinds from parmesan cheese to use in soups such as this. A traditional way to impart the soup with great flavor, simply simmer the rind in the soup as it cooks. Keep in mind, though, that you will probably not need to add any salt to the soup and may be able to get away with using water instead of the stock.

Minestrone is great made fresh and it's tempting to make a large batch but, unfortunately, it doesn't freeze well. Starchy ingredients such as potatoes and pasta continue to absorb liquid, even after they are frozen, leaving you with a mushy mess when defrosted.

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