April 24, 2011

Fresh Minestrone Soup

Happy Easter! I'm sure there are many happy little children this morning, with lots of chocolatey smiles. The Easter Bunny visits our home and hides candy- and coin-filled eggs throughout our yard (or perhaps our house if it's a rainy morning.) He also leaves a small basket of goodies and lots of books, toys (mostly bug boxes and related outdoor items) and toothbrushes, of course. What a good Easter Bunny!

After much chocolate is consumed (we usually let them have at it for the first few days - they eventually get their fill and forget about the rest...and it all magically disappears), it's time for the family gathering. Which means lots of ham and kielbasa, little fruits and veggies. Last year I started a new tradition - bringing a delicious, hearty, fresh minestrone soup. It's perfect for the vegetarian. It's filling with loads of veggies, beans and pasta. If there's nothing else for me to eat, one or two (or three) bowls of this soup and I'm all set. Even for the meat-eaters, it's incredibly well-received. Enjoy!

fresh minestrone soup recipe
serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
5 carrots, chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
4 cups crushed tomatoes
1 cup kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups baby spinach or kale (chopped) or 1 cup collard greens (finely chopped)
3 zucchinis, halved and sliced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shell pasta or ditalini
grated parmesan cheese, to taste (optional)

1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Saute garlic for 2 minutes. Add onion and saute another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add celery and carrots and cook for another 2 minutes. 

2. Add broth, water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, giving it a good stir. Reduce heat to low and add kidney and green beans, your greens, zucchini, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer for at least 45 minutes. If you can leave it longer, continue to let it simmer. The flavors will have more time to blend and its consistency will thicken, which I love in my minestrone.

NOTE: Simmer, simmer, simmer - if it gets too thick, add a little more veggie stock. I let mine cook on the stove for a few hours. Also, I had to use canned tomatoes and it tasted a little metallic, so I added a tablespoon of sugar to eliminate the taste.

3. Within the last 10-15 minutes of cooking, add your pasta directly to the soup. If you plan on freezing it, cook separately according to pasta directions. Freezing will make pasta mushy.

4. Place in bowls and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top, if desired.


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