Monday, October 14, 2013

Minestrone Soup

After holding out for about two months while my friends in the northern regions of the country waxed poetic about the crisp fall weather, scarves and crunch of leaves on the sidewalk, I finally started pulling out my soup recipes for the cooler months ahead this past week.

Last year, I let my soup obsession start way too early and my poor husband got a bit burnt out by about the eighth month of liquid dinners. This year, I waited until the temperature at least dropped into the upper seventies before I started dreaming about broth.

In flipping through some of my favorite soup and chili recipes, I started to realize that very few are meatless. Granted, the amount of meat needed in most of my soups is rather minimal (I can usually get by with a half pound of just about anything and still feel like the flavors and the heartiness is there), but in a quest for new meatless recipes, my search came up a bit short.

So, I decided to create my own. Minestrone soup seemed the most logical solution. I reviewed a few recipes, found the common themes between most, then just pulled together what was in my pantry and fridge and threw it all together with delicious results. Even my sweet husband commented how good it was and that he didn’t even miss the meat. Success!

Minestrone Soup

2 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
6 cups vegetable stock
1 cup thinly sliced cabbage
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 dried bay leaf
1-2 15-oz. cans fire-roasted or plain diced tomatoes, with their juice
1 cup elbow pasta
1 15-oz. can white beans, drained
1 zucchini, chopped
2 cups spinach (can also sub chopped kale or collard greens)
Salt and pepper, to taste
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion and cook for about 5 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add broth, cabbage, tomato paste, parsley, basil, celery, carrots, bay leaf and tomatoes. If using heavier greens like kale or collards, add those during this stage as well. Bring to a quick boil, then simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Add beans, pasta, zucchini and spinach and simmer for another 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls and service with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

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