I keep my minestrone soup vegetarian, but there are recipes that incorporate bacon or pancetta fat. Because I was making a large batch, I shared some with vegetarian family members. I also wanted to serve this for dinner on Meatless Monday. To boost the flavor, I spiced things up with garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
For this recipe, the measurements are close approximations to what I used. Often when I am making soups, I will take the vegetables that I have on hand to create something delicious. Feel free to add or substitute vegetables based on what you have on hand, or you enjoy. Some suggestions: Zucchini, summer squash, potato, swiss chard... you get the idea!
Minestrone Soup (Vegetarian)
Makes 4 quarts
- 1 large onion, small dice
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup carrots, sliced
- 1 cup celery sliced
- 1 cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 1/2 bunch of kale, ribs removed, sliced into ribbons
- 3 cans petite diced tomatoes
- 1 can of garbanzo beans
- 1 can of red kidney beans
- 2 tsp. fresh oregano
- 2 tsp. fresh thyme
- 1 tsp. fresh rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
- Olive Oil
- 2 quarts water or vegetable stock
- Parmesan rind (optional)
- 1/2 pound small pasta shapes (I used small seashells)
- Prepare the vegetables as directed above. You want your vegetables to be uniform in size so they cook evenly. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat with enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Sweat the onions, garlic and half the chili flakes with a teaspoon of kosher salt until fragrant.
- Add the carrots, celery, cauliflower and let caramelize.
- Chop the oregano, thyme, and rosemary, then add to the pot with the bay leaf. Add the tomatoes and the rinsed beans, and water or stock. Season with salt or pepper (If using water, you will need to season a little more aggressively.)
- Let it come to a boil, parmesan cheese rind and then simmer for about an hour for flavors to develop. After 20 minutes, add the kale and taste for seasoning. If you find that you want more zip, add the remaining red pepper flakes.
- I cook my pasta separately and add before serving, so it doesn't drink up too much of the broth and become mushy, especially when freezing or reheating. Just cook the pasta in salted water to 1 minute less than al dente, then rinse with cold water and toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. I store my pasta in a container next to my soup in the fridge, and toss in a handful before reheating.
This soup is great right out of the pot, but will get better as the flavors are allowed to meld in the refrigerator overnight. Try this soup the next time the weather is gloomy or stormy, its bound to put a smile on you face!