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Vegetable Soup (Minestrone) picture

Vegetable Soup (Minestrone)

Minestrone means "big soup" in Italian, and it refers to a thick vegetable soup that includes pasta and sometimes peas or beans. It is a meal in itself - just a add a little crusty bread.

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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 large leek (or 2 small), white and light green parts only, washed well and thinly sliced
  • 1 large zucchini, finely chopped
  • 1/4 head of cabbage (green red or Savoy), thinly sliced
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups (2 quarts) water or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup canned pureed or chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup dried pasta shells (small size)
  • 8 ounces green beans, stem ends removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 15 ounces canned white navy beans (or cannellini beans)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)
  • Crusty bread for serving (optional)

Serves 4 to 6 as a main

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and begin to brown, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the celery, leek, zucchini, cabbage, potato, carrot, basil and bay leaf and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes more.
  3. Add the water or stock and tomatoes and bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, add the pasta shells and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the pasta shells are just done, about 10 minutes. Add the green beans and navy beans and continue to simmer for 5 minutes more. If soup gets too thick add more liquid.
  5. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper as desired.  (Soup can be prepared to this point up to 2 days ahead.  Once it cools, keep it in the refrigerator in an airtight container.  Soup may also be frozen for up to 3 months.)
  6. Serve hot with a mound of grated Parmesan on top and crusty bread on the side, if you like.