Soup to me is such a comfort food!  This minestrone soup recipe follows the Italian tradition of relying solely on the vegetables, beans and a scrap of parmesan rind for the flavor of the broth. The beans, cooked from scratch in the soup broth, enrich the soup. Napa cabbage sweetens it and a last-minute addition of red wine underscores its heartiness. You can play around with the spices adding or subtracting to suit your taste, but whatever you do, don’t forget the final pinch of freshly grated parmesan on top!

Ingredients:

  • Olive or vegetable oil for sauteing
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 3/4 cups dry cannellini beans
  • 1/4 cup dry garbanzo beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsps fresh thyme
  • 2 tsps fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsps fresh oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsps salt
  • 1 tsps pepper
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (or 1 can, with juice)
  • 1 cup cut green beans, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup zucchini, sliced and quartered
  • 1 carrot, sliced thin
  • 2 inch piece Parmesan cheese rind
  • 1 small napa cabbage, sliced and chopped
  • 1/3 cup soup pasta, like orzo or tiny shells
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • Shredded Parmesan for garnish

Directions:

  1. Pour enough oil to coat bottom of a heavy 4 quart and heat over medium high.
  2. Add onions and garlic; reduce heat to medium. Saute until onions are translucent.
  3. Add beans, water and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer 1 1/2 hours, or until beans are just barely tender.
  4. Add herbs and seasonings, tomatoes, green beans, zucchini and cheese rind. Return to boil briefly, then reduce heat to low and simmer an additional 30 minutes.
  5. Add the cabbage and pasta and simmer 30 minutes. At this point the soup can be refrigerated (or left on the stove with the heat off for up to 2 hours). Reheat before serving.
  6. When ready to serve, add wine and taste for seasoning. Serve topped with grated cheese.

Serves 6

The vegetables can be changed, added to or deleted. Amounts are only suggestions. Dried herbs can be used in place of fresh but cut the amount in half.

Minestrone soup served with slices of baguette bread can be a very warming dinner by itself or used as an appetizer for a big dinner.