We have officially entered “soup season.” When it’s rainy and chilly outside there is nothing more comforting and nourishing than a bowl of hearty soup and a slice of bread slathered with butter. It’s a perfect meal at my house. The wonderful thing about soup is that you can whip up a pot of soup in very little time using whatever you have in your refrigerator and pantry. Improvisation along with a few dashes of love are bound to give you a recipe for success. In fact, I love to cook a pot of minestrone soup at the beginning of the week and have an easy entrée for dinner for the rest of the week. The taste improves over time and you can add more veggies or pasta if needed.
Minestrone is full of vitamins and minerals and fills the belly with healthy fiber and protein from the beans as well. If you are not a fan of pasta, feel free to serve it with cooked rice or another grain instead. Minestrone can be tailored to the dietary and taste preferences of your family. As you tweak this recipe to fit your family’s needs, you’ll end up with a version that you will be cooking a lot over the next few months. Another plus–this soup freezes well, particularly if you leave out the pasta when freezing. Now go find your soup pot and enjoy the elixir that fixes all ails–soup!
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 medium stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 – 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth (note: feel free to use beef or chicken broth if you prefer)
2 cups water
1 – 15 ounce can of great northern beans or cannellini beans, drained
4 ounces (½ cup) dried whole grain elbow or small shell pasta
2 cups chopped kale
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Special Note: Please substitute any vegetables you have on hand or that are seasonal. If necessary, canned or frozen vegetables work quite well in this soup. Cauliflower, peas, green beans, parsnips, spinach, corn, etc. are wonderful additions.
- In a 5-quart Dutch oven or large saucepot on medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the onion and sauté for four minutes or until they begin to get translucent. Add the carrots, celery and garlic and sauté for three to five minutes. Stir in the bell pepper, butternut squash and dried herbs and cook until all of the vegetables begin to soften.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, water and beans. Bring to a simmer then lower the heat to medium, cover the pot and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the lid from the soup and stir in the dried pasta and kale. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until the pasta is al dente. Stir in the lemon juice, a couple generous pinches of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Turn the heat off and serve with rolls, toast or even croutons.
Special Note: If you know that you are going to have leftovers or want to make a batch of the soup to reheat, then cook the pasta separately and add to the soup as needed. Store soup separately so the pasta doesn’t absorb all of the liquid.
— By Deborah Binder
Deborah Binder lives in Edmonds with her family. She is “dancing with N.E.D.” (no evidence of disease) after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who loves to cook from scratch and share her experiments with her family and friends. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and freelances around town for local chefs. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at email@example.com.