Minestrone is a hearty, healthy, Italian soup that is delicious and works with just about any fresh vegetables you have on hand.
This can easily be done on the stove but is perfect to put in a crock pot in the morning and have it ready to eat in the evening.
If tomatoes are in season, use a few big, juicy ripe ones in place of the canned. If using canned, don’t use cheap, off-brand tomatoes. It really matters.
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 C onion, chopped
- 1 C potato, diced
- 6 C chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Crushed red pepper, to taste
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 t dried thyme
- 1 sprig fresh oregano, or 1/2 t dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 1 (15-ounce) can white (cannelloni or navy) beans, drained
- 1 C ditalini pasta or other small pasta
- 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise then cut into 1/2 pieces
- 2 C coarsely chopped fresh spinach, or cabbage or combination of both
- 4 T grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
- Basil sprigs and fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
Add olive oil to a large soup pot and heat on medium-high. Add onions, celery, potatoes and carrots and sauté until veggies are soft but not browned. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and sauté a couple more minutes.
Add tomatoes with their juices, stock, bay leaves, thyme and oregano. Salt and pepper generously and reduce heat to medium-low once it comes to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add beans, ditalini, zucchini and spinach/cabbage. Simmer another 10-15 minutes until pasta is cooked.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with parmesan, basil and parsley.
Pro tip: If you plan on having this soup for leftovers, decrease the pasta by half or it will absorb all the liquid.
Crock Pot Instructions:
In a slow cooker, combine broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, potato, celery, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, herbs and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.
Thirty minutes before the soup is done cooking, add ditalini, zucchini and spinach. Cover and cook 30 more minutes. Remove bay leaves and thyme stems and season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle parmesan cheese over top. Garnish with basil, if desired.
Additional ingredients that work great in minestrone: green beans, kidney beans, peas, yellow squash and kale.