Minestrone Soup is one of the funny food staples, for which everyone has a different recipe.
Its origins go back to early Rome and its surroundings. Many cooks use tomatoes and potatoes in their recipes. These however were still hiding away in the Americas until much, much later.
Minestra, one of the words in Italian for soup, is used in the sense of a more substantial soup such as a vegetable soup,
So now it’s down to my recipe, for which I usually add tomatoes, potatoes and pasta. So, nothing like the original but, I am pleased to say, very tasty.
A warming and hearty soup for a cold winter’s day.
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 medium ribs celery, chopped
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 2 cups chopped seasonal vegetables (potatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, butternut squash, green beans or peas all work)
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 large can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, with their liquid (or 2 small 15-ounce cans)
- 4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 bay leaves
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup elbow or small shell pasta
- 1 can (15 ounces) Great Northern beans or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained.
- 2 cups chopped kale.
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnishing (optional) (for milk meals only)
- Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, tomato paste and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened and the onions are turning translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Add the seasonal vegetables, garlic, oregano and thyme. Cook until fragrant while stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.
- Pour in the diced tomatoes and their juices, broth and water. Add the salt, bay leaves and red pepper flakes. Add black pepper to your taste.
- Raise heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover the pot with the lid, leaving about a 1” gap for steam to escape. Reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Cook for 15 minutes, then remove the lid and add the pasta, beans and greens. Continue simmering, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the the pasta is cooked al dente and the greens are tender.
- Remove the pot from the heat, then remove the bay leaves. Stir in the lemon juice and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Taste and season with more salt and pepper. Garnish bowls of soup with grated Parmesan, if you are preparing a milk meal.
- DO NOT leave or reheat as the pasta will overcook and spoil the soup.