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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Minestrone Soup

This is a wonderful soup. My mom used to make it quite often, especially when Dad would travel. I understand beauty of this soup now that I am a Mom.  There are often times that I need to put a meal on the table which is wholesome but am too tired to make multiple dishes. By making just one dish, I am able to take care of all the nutritional facets, put something new on the table and since it is so delicious, it is a sure hit.

This soup has multiple vegetables, pasta and beans and is a complete meal by itself.  I make a large batch and enjoy it through the week. If you don't add the beans and pasta to it, then it is a very low fat (almost zero fat), high fiber, delicious snack or appetizer. Also, it is a forgiving recipe. Even if you don't have all the vegetables that the recipe calls for, as long as you have the basic carrots, onions, celery and tomatoes, you will be able to achieve the desired taste.

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 carrot, sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 celery stalk, sliced thinly
2-3 garlic cloved, finely diced or crushed
5-6 tomatoes/ 1 can of whole tomatoes - diced
a wedge of cabbage, thinly sliced (about 1/8th or less head of cabbage)
5-6 green beans, diced
1 zuccini, slit it into two lengthwise and then slice it thinly into semi circles
water/ broth
1 cup spinach leaves
1/4-1/2 cup white or cannelini beans cooked (can also use red beans)
2 cups cooked pasta (use small pasta is possible like shell or macaroni shape. In the pictures here, I used penne as that was the only pasta I had on hand)
parmesan cheese, to garnish (optional)
1 tsp Italian seasoning (optional)
salt to taste
pepper to taste

In a deep vessel (deep enough for the soup to boil in), heat the oil. Add garlic and stir for a minute or two. Once you get the aroma of the garlic, add the onions. Then add the Italian seasoning if you are using it. As they soften, add the celery and the carrots. Cook this mixture till the vegetables are slightly softened. Next add the green beans and cook for a few minutes. This is the time to add the tomatoes. If using canned ones, add the tomatoes as well as the juice they are in. (If adding fresh ones, then let the tomatoes cook through by boiling them in the water/broth.) Then add enough water or broth (about 3-5 cups) to make this into a water consistency.  The soup base is not very thick. Then add the zuccini and cook. This cooks very fast. Then add the cabbage slices.  Once these are semi cooked, add the spinach leaves.

Once all the vegetables are added, add the beans and pasta. Cook the pasta separately per directions on the packet. Add the cooked pasta to the soup. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese.

Serve hot as a meal, a starter or an afternoon snack.

If you don't have italian seasoning, try adding just oregano and basil if possible. This makes it more flavorful. You can skip the seasoning alltogether. If you are starting with dry beans, soak them for 6-8 hours or overnight. Then either boil them till softened or pressure cook them. It is a good idea to add some salt to the beans while being cooked so that it gets absorbed in the beans and makes them flavorful. If you are using canned tomatoes, use whole tomatoes and then dice them into cubes. Whole canned tomatoes are more flavorful than diced ones. You can also add the dry pasta to the soup and boil it in the soup directly. If you are doing that, add it as soon as the broth/water is added and then add the zuccini and spinach. If you are using canned tomatoes and beans, then taste the soup before adding more salt, as canned foods already have salt added.  You can skip or do any combination of the beans, cabbage, spinach and zuccini and still get a great tasting soup.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this recipe :) I agree with you that it's a whole meal by itself and very nutritious.