Minestrone is a thick, Italian soup, perfect for fall. This is a great make ahead meal too. I made this soup over the weekend so I’d have an easy weeknight meal. All I have to do is bring it to a boil, add pasta and cheese and poof….a delicious homemade soup during the week!
The following serves 4 (compliments of Rachel Ray and This Girl’s Gotta Eat):
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
- 4 slices pancetta or 1/4 pound thick cut prosciutto, chopped (I used turkey bacon)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
- 2 cans white beans, cannellini (Rachel uses half white beans and half chickpeas, however I just doubled up on the white bean)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 cups chicken broth or stock (I used homemade stock)
- 1 cup ditalini pasta or mini penne pasta (I use whole wheat orzo)
- 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 10 ounces triple washed spinach, stems removed and coarsely chopped, or any other dark greens
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano, plus extra to pass at the table
- 12 to 16 leaves fresh basil, torn or shredded or 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
Heat a soup pot over medium high heat. Add oil and pancetta or prosciutto. Saute 2 minutes and add onions, celery, garlic, zucchini and bay to the pot. Season vegetables with salt and pepper, to your taste. Saute vegetables 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add beans, and chicken broth to the pot. Cover soup and bring to a boil. Add pasta and green beans to the soup and cook 8 minutes, or until pasta is just tender. Stir in spinach to wilt, 1 minute. Stir in grated cheese and ladle soup into bowls. Top soup with torn or shredded basil or chopped parsley.
This Girl’s extra tip: To make this soup ahead of time, follow all of the directions except adding the pasta, cheese and basil. Cool soup and store in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat it, mix in the grated cheese and bring the soup back to a boil (I add the cheese before bringing to a boil so that it melts evenly into the soup and doesn’t clump). Next, add the pasta and cook 8 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Top with basil and enjoy (be sure to serve with extra grated cheese)!