Nothing warms the heart during the winter than a hot bowl of soup and a hunk of fresh bread with butter. I found this minestrone soup online last week. I don’t think I’ve ever made minestrone. We grew up on my mother’s vegetable soup. None of us can make it quite like she does. I do love the concept of vegetables and pasta together in a bowl. I make a lot of soups, but this one is the best. I changed the original recipe a bit. I love to tweak recipes.
I ordered some delicious dried Marcella beans online from Rancho Gordo a few weeks ago. I wasn’t sure what to use them for until I read the label. It mentioned using them in a minestrone soup. Perfect! It all came together. I followed the directions on their website to pre-cook the dried beans. They were very creamy. I tasted a small bowl with a sprinkle of salt and olive oil. They were very satisfying. For the minestrone you can absolutely use canned beans. You can save yourself the steps of pre-cooking.
I decided to cook the pasta in the soup to thicken it. I don’t like watery soups.I can’t decide if it’s because I like the texture of a thick soup or that I usually spill soup of my shirt. Maybe it’s both reasons! You may choose to follow the directions of cooking the pasta separately. I would suggest cooking half in the soup and the other half in another pan, al dente. I think adding a Parmesan rind adds a creaminess to any soup. I freeze my rinds and sometimes even buy them at Whole Foods.
The original recipe has directions for making it in a crock pot or on the stove top. I don’t have a crock pot. I love using my Le Creuset Dutch ovens for soups. You may choose your methods.
Let’s get cooking!
1 (15 oz.) can white beans, drained, rinsed (cannellini or navy)
32 oz. chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 tsp. olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots diced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
28 oz. canned petite diced tomatoes
Parmesan cheese rind (optional)
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. dried basil
¼ cup chopped parsley
½ tsp. kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
1 1/2 cups small pasta like ditalini or elbows
extra Parmesan cheese for garnish
Puree beans in 1 cup of broth in a blender or food processor. You can mash them with a fork if you don’t have these pieces of equipment, and then add in the broth.
Heat oil in a large pot. Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, mushrooms. Salt the vegetables lightly and saute them until tender, about 15 minutes. Don’t let the vegetables brown. You want them more translucent.
Add the remaining broth, tomatoes, beans, parmesan cheese rind, salt and pepper. Add the basil and parsley, cover and cook on low for 40 minutes. Add the zucchini and spinach, cover and simmer until the zucchini is tender. I add the uncooked pasta now and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the bay leaves and parmesan rind and season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked pasta if you are using any. Let the soup simmer for a few minutes so the flavors can all blend together. Serve the soup with some extra Parmesan cheese on top! Enjoy!