Minestrone is by far one of my favorite soups. It is a hearty Italian soup made with fresh in-season vegetables. There are no hard or fast rules about what goes into “the big soup.” I first heard it called this by Chef Mario Batali. He says “use what’s fresh and in-season.” Change it up and use what you prefer. When I lived in Italy, Chef Mario’s cookbooks and app helped bridge a gap for me as I learned to navigate my way through a new language and way of cooking. I love his cookbook Simple Family Meals from My Home to Yours. It goes through a year of incredible Italian dishes cooked seasonally as the freshest ingredients become available. This philosophy of eating and preparing food seasonally greatly impacted me.
Minestrone is especially delicious with a spoonful of fresh pesto onto top of each bowlful. When paired with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, it is a fresh flavor burst that will ignite your senses. To keep things simple, in this version of Minestrone, I use canned San Marzano whole tomatoes. You can certainly use fresh tomatoes, like pictured below if you prefer. Also pictured in this big bowl is the addition of escarole (Italian greens), chick peas and elbow pasta.
Minestrone is a great way to get your veggies! Eat the rainbow in one bowl of healthy soup.
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Minestrone is a hearty Italian soup made with fresh in-season vegetables. There are no hard or fast rules about what goes into “the big soup.” Use what’s fresh, in-season and what you prefer. For a fresh flavor burst, top each bowlful with a spoonful of fresh pesto.
- 2 - 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion (about 1 cup) diced
- 1 stalk leek (about 1 cup)
- 1 pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 medium-sized carrots
- 2 1/2 ribs celery (about 1 cup)
- 3 cups cabbage
- 1 1/2 small zucchinis (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 can San Marzano whole tomatoes 28 oz can
- 1 can vegetable broth 14.5 oz can
- 2 tbsp fresh oregano
- 1 - 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 8 - 8 1/2 cups hot water
- 1 can cannellini beans 15 oz can
- fresh pesto or grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
Chop all the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans. Heath the olive oil on medium-high in a large Dutch oven. Saute the onion and leek until they begin to soften. Season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the carrots, celery and cabbage and continue to saute for several minutes. Finally, add the zucchini and tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon.
Add the vegetable broth, oregano, salt and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Add the cannellini beans. Reduce the heat and simmer covered on low for 1 - 1 1/2 hrs or until the vegetables are fork tender.
Adjust the seasoning to taste. Serve with a garnish of fresh pesto or grated Parmesan cheese.
Optional: Add 1 - 3/4 cup small pasta or rice about 8 - 10 minutes prior to end of cooking time.
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