Soup’s On! Make Mine Minestrone

Once the weather turns cool, hearty soups are on my menus again. The aroma and warmth in the kitchen are wonderful and there is nothing more inviting than a steaming bowl of soup on a cold day.

Homemade soup is a favorite of my son and daughter-in-law, so I always have a pot ready when they bring my beautiful grandchildren, Charlie and Lizzie, for a visit. This minestrone was also designed to accommodate both the vegetarians and meat eaters in the family. I complete the entire recipe, using vegetable broth, then set aside generous servings for them before I add the meat to the pot. The minestrone is delicious, with or without meat; the vegetarian version is nice topped with a little grated Parmesan cheese.
I created the following using only what I had in the pantry and in the refrigerator crisper. Feel free to add a couple sliced carrots if you have them on hand and omit the zucchini if desired.

For a hearty, crusty no-knead bread to go with your homemake soup, click here. Or for an easy, pesto-pasta soup go here or spicy fish chowder recipe, go here.

Tip: Different brands of products have different amounts of salt, so taste and add salt at the very end of cooking.

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 large celery stalks, divided
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
6 1/2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
1/4 cup green or brown lentils
1 large bay leaf
1 each teaspoon dried oregano and marjoram leaves  
1/4 tsp black pepper (or to taste) or 1/8 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, optional
2 small (6-inch) zucchinis, split lengthwise, then cut into 1/4 inch half slices
1/4 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta) or small elbow macaroni
2 15 oz cans diced “Italian seasoned” tomatoes
1 cup rinsed and drained canned white beans
1/2 to 1 cup diced lean ham, pepperoni, or other cooked, smoked sausage, optional
Salt to taste

In a 4 quart or larger pot, combine the oil, onion, and 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, for 5 or 6 minutes, until the onion begins to brown. Stir in half the parsley and garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the broth, lentils, bay leaf, oregano, marjoram and black or red pepper. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the mixture simmers, and cook, covered, stirring once or twice, for 25 to 35 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

Bring the pot to a full boil. Cut the remaining celery stalks crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Add them along with the zucchini and pasta to the pot. Boil, covered, stirring occasionally to be sure the paste isn’t sticking to the pot bottom, until it is almost tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, white beans, ham or sausage (if using), and remaining parsley and gently simmer until the flavors are well blend, about 15 minutes. Add salt to taste and more broth (or water) if a thinner minestrone is desired. It will thicken a bit during storage, so add a bit more broth (or water) as needed when reheating.

The minestrone will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days. It may also be frozen for up to 1 month.

For another Italian-style soup you may like, this pesto-pasta-bean soup, go here.

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  1. Anonymous says

    Here is one we love. Italian sausage can be tossed in if desired. I have done it both ways and zowie! Easy and delicious.

    serves 4-5 people
    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    1 medium onion, diced
    2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, I use less than an eighth
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1 teaspoon dried basil
    salt & pepper
    14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
    32 oz. chicken stock
    10 oz. package cheese tortellini
    6 oz. fresh baby spinach
    grated Parmesan, for serving
    Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium stock pot. Add the onions, pepper flakes, dried oregano and basil.  Sauté onions until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute and season with salt & pepper. Slowly add the diced tomatoes and vegetable stock; bring to a gentle boil, about 10-12 minutes.  Add the tortellini to the soup and cook for another 6 minutes. Add the spinach, a few handfuls at a time, and slowly stir into the soup, cook for another 3-4 minutes. Serve soup in bowls with a few heaping spoonfuls of Parmesan and crusty no knead bread.

  2. says

    Nancy (and Hanaa!) –

    Both of your soups sound wonderful, and I can't wait to try them. Nancy's soup looks (and probably tastes more hearty) than the minestrone I had for lunch today in a restaurant. And, as most of my friends know, I'm a rabid soupaholic!

    Thanks, ladies, for the tempting recipes!

    Binnie Syril

  3. says

    That sounds very good too. You could substitute some of the pasta with barley for a heartier soup. I love basil too. Maybe you could make some basil rolls to go with your soup :o) Now I'm hungry… :o)

  4. says

    Your recipe sounds yummy, too. I'll be making a white bean, pasta, and parmesan soup soon for lunch to use up some of the basil in my garden. The weather is cooling off and I need to use the basil before frost.

  5. says

    Looks delicious. I love making soup from scratch with whatever I have on hand. There's a similar (meatless) soup to this one that I love to make. I like to use both white beans and red kidney beans. And for some more color, I add carrots.