This is probably one of my most important recipes, adapted from a Food52 article titled “How To Make Vegetarian Minestrone Soup without a Recipe”, which can be read here. I realize that it seems odd to create a recipe based off an article telling you you don’t need a recipe, but hear me out. While studying abroad in Florence during my junior year of college, my roommate and I ran out of money within the first 5 minutes (Italian leather and cornettos with crema, I literally couldn’t STOP myself), and realized that we were going to have to be able to cook more of our own meals if we were going to make it out of the country without being completely broke. Not wanting to venture too far away from the Italian flavors we were coming to know and love, I came across this article and got to work.
The basic beauty of this soup is that you can basically just use whatever you have around the house, which makes it incredibly versatile. However, after one try, the following combination became such a staple to our friend group that, 2 years later, I still make it the exact same way at every reunion. A classic minestrone includes all the good stuff- veggies, pasta, lots of cheese (the best part really), and takes on a slightly different flavor with each adjustment. Soup can sometimes seem daunting, but it’s SO satisfying to watch it come together, and this is a great recipe for a beginner to start with, or for a more experienced cook to mess around with. A word of advice? If the whole quantity of soup is not being eaten in one sitting, you may want to cook the pasta in a separate pot and add it into the soup before serving, or else be prepared to add more chicken broth/ water the next time you heat it, as the pasta absorbs most of the broth overnight, making it much thicker and less of a soup consistency. P.S. If you do make changes/ adjustments, I would LOVE to hear how they turn out. Enjoy!! xoxoD
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium-sized yellow onions; diced
5 (or 6) carrots; peeled and diced
4 stalks celery; diced
4 cloves garlic; minced
3 red bell peppers; diced
3 leek stalks; thoroughly cleaned and sliced into thin half-moons
4-5 yukon gold potatoes; peeled and diced into chunks
2 cans crushed tomatoes
8 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth if you’re going vegetarian)
2 cans white beans; drained and rinsed
1 box dried pasta (Any short pasta will work, I like rigatoni or large shells)
A few handfuls fresh spinach leaves; washed
Salt & Pepper to taste
Wedge of parmesan cheese; freshly grated (for serving)
1. Add olive oil to a heavy-bottomed soup pot and heat on medium. Add onions, carrots, celery, leeks, and peppers, and cook until they soften and the onions are translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for another minute, until the garlic is fragrant but not brown. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Next, add potatoes and stir briefly to incorporate with the rest of the veggies. Pour in both cans of crushed tomatoes, the chicken broth, and cover the pot with a lid. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer (low heat), cooking until the potatoes are tender when tested with a fork, 20-30 minutes.
3. Add the drained, rinsed beans, and heat through, about 5 minutes. If using uncooked pasta, toss in towards the end, until the pasta is al dente. Toss in spinach leaves and mix until they begin to wilt (the measurement is general because it’s totally up to you, and spinach shrinks up so a few handfuls always ends up being less than you’d think).
4. Serve with a generous grating of parmesan cheese, and a large piece of crusty bread. Then lie on the floor for a while and wonder if you’ll ever not be full again!
This recipe is dedicated to my Firenze family who I hope still want me around now that I have revealed this secret recipe.