Oh wow! It certainly is soup weather these days. The nights have been in the 40s and the days warming up a little. Soup and cold weather just go together.
One of my favorite places to go with a dear friend of mine is Olive Garden to eat their Minestrone Soup. We get their lunch special of endless soup, salad, and breadsticks because it easy to order, we know it is going to be delicious, and the salad and breadsticks are first on the table. Yum! We don't get to do this very often, but when we do, we just talk and talk and talk.You might say endless talking (giggles).
This Minestrone Soup is the perfect soup to warm you up. It is chock-full of vegetables and just enough pasta to make it filling. The base of the soup is simple, with sauteing an onion and going from there. You build on flavors by adding the broth and some of the vegetables. I am not sure if Olive Garden does this or not, but this is an Italian soup, and by adding a big chunk of Parmesan cheese rind, I know you can add another layer of incredible flavor. Some people add the pasta and spinach at the first, but I really like adding them at the end just before you serve it, and cooking the pasta al dente.
Adapted from Tod Wilbur
3 tbsps olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium zucchini, chopped
1 cup fresh green beans, cut in 1/2 inch pieces (I used frozen)
1 stalk celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 (15 oz.) cans vegetable broth
2 (15 oz.) cans red kidney beans, drained
2 (15 oz) cans white beans (I used Cannelloni)
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 large carrot, shredded
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
12 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
3 cups hot water
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2-3/4 cup mini shell pasta
In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat; add onion and saute until translucent. Add zucchini, green beans, celery, and garlic and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add broth, kidney bean, white beans, tomatoes, and shredded carrot. Simmer for 5-10 minutes and add parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, basil, thyme, garlic salt, onion salt, celery salt, and water. Bring to a boil and cook on a slow simmer for 30 minutes. Just before serving add spinach and the pasta and cook until pasta is al dente. Serve with Parmesan cheese.
Note: You can add a piece of a Parmesan cheese rind in the soup while you are bringing it to a boil, and you will have another layer of flavor!
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