This soup is chock full of vegetables, with some beans, potatoes and whole grain pasta–nutritious and filling. It’s easy to make but there is quite a bit of chopping. That said, you’ll have enough to freeze for a second meal, and you could make a double batch of mire poix (the onion/celery/carrot mix) to make a different meal the next day.

Minestrone Soup

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup small pasta (tube shaped or macaroni), whole wheat preferred
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil of choice (plus optional olive oil to put on top of soup in the bowl)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 tbsp. chopped thyme
  • 4 cups diced zucchini (green, yellow, or a combination)
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (or cook your own)
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes (canned or fresh, using any juices)
  • 2 cups small diced new potatoes (not peeled)
  • 6 cups vegetable stock (see credits below for my favorite home made version)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. salt plus more to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper plus more to taste
  • 1 cup parmesan (for topping the soup when it’s in the bowl)
  • 1/2 cup pesto (optional for topping the soup)
  • optional shredded chicken for meat lovers (1/4 lb. per person)

Directions

  1. Pre-cook your pasta according to package directions, only to al-dente.
  2. Heat up large pot over medium heat. When the pot is warm, add the oil and let it heat up. When the oil is warm (careful not to overheat it) add the garlic, stirring often to prevent burning. As soon as it starts to brown, add the onions, carrots and celery.  Cook this over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until vegetables are soft.
  3. Turn the heat to high and stir in the chopped herbs, zucchini, tomatoes, and potatoes.
  4. Immediately add in the vegetable stock, stirring to combine, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 12 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
  5. Add salt and pepper, and test the soup, adjusting flavor as necessary (see notes).
  6. Just before serving, stir in the pasta (and optional shredded chicken if using) and continue cooking so that the pasta (and chicken) is warmed through. Serve with a generous tablespoon of parmesan and optional toppings such as olive oil and pesto.

Lessons Learned/Advice:

  • Remember that different oils have different smoke points. I usually use a combination of canola and extra virgin olive oil. Heat the pan first, then add the oil.
  • The carrots, celery and onions are all finely chopped for the soup base (called a mire poix). Try to make the other ingredients (zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes and pasta) all the same size (to each other), and small enough so that a spoonful will get multiple pieces on it (and a blend of the flavors).
  • I prefer to use new potatoes and not peel them since so many nutrients are just below the skin; however, if you are using russet potatoes, you will likely want to peel them.
  • I estimate salt and pepper to give you a range but it really depends on how salty your stock is. My homemade stock is not salty and I like salty foods so I put in at least 1 teaspoon of salt, and the same of pepper.
  • Flavor of the soup will vary dramatically depending on the quality of your vegetables and the stock that you use.  Count on testing for flavor and be willing to add a little salt. if it still needs a “kick” try some fresh lemon juice, adding only a few drops at a time. re-taste and add more as needed.  A little extra olive oil is also an option.
  • Because I always end up freezing at least half of the soup, consider making the pasta near the very end of the process, and add it directly to the bowls of soup while the pasta is still warm. Alternatively, split the soup into separate pots and add the pasta only to the portion you will eat the first day. This way, you can re-heat the second half of the soup from the freezer and add freshly cooked pasta, otherwise the pasta might over cook in the re-heating process.
  • For those who love to add meat, I prefer shredded chicken breast. This can be added at the same time as the pasta.

Credits:

Based on Michael Chiarello’s Super Quick Minestrone (modified to be vegetarian).

My favorite stock is Rebecca Katz’s magic mineral broth. Delicious vegetarian broth that has a lot of flavor and is full of nutrients.  Keep in mind that her recipe makes 24 cups (6 quarts) and while it is easy and not too labor intensive to make, it still takes time. So, you might want to make the broth one day and the soup another day; freeze the broth in 4-6 cup containers for future soups (assuming you have some freezer space).

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