Adapted from The New Laurel’s Kitchen, by Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, and Brian Ruppenthal (1986). On a cold winter’s day, a nice big bowl of this wonderful soup soothes the spirit. The soup is endlessly adaptable–you can choose the veggies, the beans, and the pasta to your liking.
Note that the 4 cups of chopped vegetables means 4 cups total of chopped veggies, not 4 cups of each vegetable as one vegetable-loving family member interpreted this recipe! If you do get carried away with the veggies, you can add some water or V-8 to the soup to balance your healthy enthusiasm.
For the 4 cups of veggies, I usually choose carrot, potato, peas, corn, mushrooms, and whatever is freshly leftover in the fridge.
For the tomatoes, you can use 3 cans of the same kind, or several kinds as in the recipe.
For the pasta, I am partial to miniature alphabet pasta because it reminds me of the Campbell’s alphabet soup of my childhood. The little letters puff up more than you might expect.
The “tender greens” can include kale or collards, which aren’t very tender, or real tender greens such as spinach.
2 onions, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
3 cups chopped celery (about 6-8 ribs)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes, chopped, with juice
1 large 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, with juice
1 large 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
4 bay leaves
2 teaspoon oregano
4 teaspoons basil
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
vegetables: 4 cups or more, chopped, of carrot, zucchini, potato, broccoli, green beans, sweet pepper, cabbage, peas, corn, sautéed mushrooms
1 1/2-2 cups (1 can, rinsed and drained) of cooked beans: lima, kidney, pinto, black, or garbanzo
a Parmesan rind if you have one
(leave out for vegan recipe)
1 to 2 quarts water
handful of raw or cooked whole wheat pasta
salt to taste
plenty of pepper
(tender greens, cut up)
½ cup chopped parsley
Saute onion, garlic, and celery in oil until soft. Crush garlic. Add tomatoes and herbs and the Parmesan rind if you have one. Simmer the soup gently while you prepare whatever vegetables and beans you wish to add.
Minestrone welcomes leftover steamed vegetables, but if you are cooking them fresh, we suggest steaming or simmering them before adding to the soup because vegetables cooked with tomato will lose their color. Incorporate the vegetable cooking water into the soup.
After adding the vegetables, add 1 to 2 quarts of water as needed for a good balance between veggies and broth. Simmer gently for 15 or 20 minutes.
Add beans and pasta and simmer another 30 minutes.
Parsley and tender greens will keep their color and not be overcooked if you add them just a few minutes before serving. Don’t count them as part of the 2 cups of vegetables because they cook down so much; just add them as extras.
After combining all the ingredients, bring the soup to a boil, simmer briefly, and correct the seasonings. If you like, garnish each bowl with a spoonful of Parmesan cheese.
Makes about 6-7 quarts—all to the good because it’s even better the next day. Serves 12 generously.