Souper Minestrone

It’s rainy and gray and generally the kind of day for soup. We’ve been making a real effort with food lately – mainly cutting out packaged foods and trying to get high quality ingredients (making sure our dairy, eggs, and meats come from pasture-raised animals and getting organic fruits and veg for the “dirty dozen” at least – locally sourced when possible). We’ve also stepped up the vegetable and fruit intake. (We go through phases with that, usually depending on how much time I feel I have to devote to such things.)

One of my favorite soups is minestrone. I love that it has greens and beans – yum! I searched for a minestrone recipe that sounded just right, but didn’t land on anything that seemed perfect, so I decided to adapt a “Spring Vegetable Soup” recipe from Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution,” (which is a really nice cookbook and I recommend it).

Here’s my Souper Minestrone adaptation:

Ingredients:

  • 2 stalks celery (including leaves), diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock (I used chicken – half store bought half home-made)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup dry cannellini beans (you could use a 15 oz can – but then rinse and don’t add them until the last 10-15 mins of cooking)
  • 1 box frozen spinach, thawed (or you could use 4-6 cups of fresh, I just happened to have frozen)
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into half-moons or quarters
  • 2 plum tomatoes, peeled and diced (or you could use 1 can of diced tomatoes to replace all 4 tomatoes here)
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled and diced (I used heirlooms as they were on sale and are so tasty!)
  • 1 cup whole wheat orzo pasta (or any small size pasta shape)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • bay leaf
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp basil
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Soak your dry cannellini beans overnight: Rinse and then add 4 cups of water and let set for at least 8 hours. When ready to add to your soup, drain and rinse them.

Add 2tbsp olive oil to a heavy bottom pot over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the onions, celery, carrots, and shallots, plus a little salt and pepper. Sweat them until translucent (about 5 minutes).

Add the 6 cups of stock and 2 cups water. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, then turn down heat to medium low to simmer. Add your rinsed cannellini beans (if using canned, hold off until the step where you add your pasta). Add bay leaf, thyme, sage, and 1/2 tsp basil. Cover and simmer for 1.5 hours (if using canned beans, you need not cook for so long).

Just before adding pasta, I wash my tomatoes and cut a small x in the top and bottom of each and pop them in the soup for about 20-30 seconds (flip them over so that all sides are submerged), then remove. The skin should peel away easily. Then you can dice your tomatoes.

Add the pasta (and canned beans, if using), turn heat to high, and stir. After about a minute, stir again. Once boiling, turn heat to medium and continue to cook as long as directed for the pasta (mine was 9 minutes). With five minutes remaining, add the spinach (thawed or fresh), tomatoes (canned or fresh), zucchini, cheese and 1/2 tsp basil.

This makes 6-8 hearty servings (perfect for freezing leftovers, too!).

I served this with some more grated cheese and fresh ground pepper and a side of a little crusty bread (with butter or olive oil).

Do you have a favorite soup recipe for those dreary days?

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