Recipe of the Week #5: Minestrone Soup

Minestrone soup is as Italian as pasta. History tells us the hearty soup dates back to the expansion of the Latin tribes of Rome into what became the Roman Republic and later Roman Empire. At this time, diets were typically vegetarian. Depending on the season, the ingredients of minestrone can contain a huge variety of vegetables. Americans changed the traditional recipe in the mid-16th century by introducing two staple ingredients: tomatoes and potatoes. Today, minestrone is now known in Italy as belonging to the style of cooking called “cucina povera” which literally means poor kitchen. These dishes have rustic, rural roots, as opposed to “cucina nobile” or the cooking style of the aristocracy and nobles.

Head to the market, grab whatever fresh vegetables you want, cook up your own Minestrone, and enjoy the left overs!

Depending on traditional cooking times and the season, the ingredients in minestrone can vary widely.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white (cannellini or navy) beans, drained
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups cooked ditalini pasta
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped spinach
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Directions

In a large pot, combine broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, and bay leaves. 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 season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle parmesan cheese over top.

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