I was completely unaware of minestrone’s existence this time last year. I don’t remember the exact moment of discovery, but I do remember thinking how fancy “mine-strone” soup sounded.

Yep, up until oh, I don’t know, December, I pronounced minestrone as mine (as in goldmine) strone (like strong, without the g). I have no sense of phonics, foreign or not.

And as fancy as the soup sounds, it’s pretty simple to make and you can pretty much use whatever vegetables you want. From what I understand, it’s basically much one of those “clean your pantry out” soups. The base ingredients seem to be pasta, cannellini beans, tomatoes and some kind of wilted green. What I like most about this soup, however, is how colorful it looks. There are so many vibrant colors in this soup, depending on what you put in it. The wilted greens provide a beautiful deep green and contrast nicely with the red tomatoes.

I think it’d be really interesting to come up with a Cajun-style minestrone…I guess it would be close to gumbo, though. I’m thinking okra, orzo, tomatoes, red beans/black eyed peas, onion, bell pepper, corn, collards/cabbage, along with garlic, creole seasoning and some cayenne.

That probably exists somewhere already, but I’ll keep on thinking that I made it up on my own.

Anyways, here’s what I did for my Italian minestrone tonight.

Minestrone
Serves 6+

– 1 onion, chopped
– 2 carrots, cut into thin coins
– 3 celery stalks, chopped
– 2 garlic cloves, chopped
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 large(ish) zucchini, cut in half-coins
– 1 large(ish) summer squash, cut in half-coins
– 1 can Italian diced tomatoes
– 1 can cannellini beans
– 3.5 cups chicken broth, plus 1 cup water
– 1.5 cups baby spinach leaves
– 2 cups medium pasta shells
– salt and pepper
– 1 tsp dried basil
– 1 tsp dried oregano
– 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
– grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Heat up the olive oil in a large pot while chopping the onions, carrots and celery. Dump them in the pot, along with some salt, pepper and the garlic. Let them soften for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally on medium heat.

Add the tomatoes, zucchini, squash, beans, chicken stock, water, and seasoning to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil, then turn the stove to low and let it simmer. In the mean time, bring another pot of water (with salt) to a boil and add in the pasta. Let them hang out for about 10 minutes.

Depending on how fast your stove can heat up a pot of water, you could wait to do this. My stove seriously took 20 minutes to bring the water to a boil. Maybe that’s not long, but it sure seemed like it…

Anyways, after letting the soup simmer (uncovered) for 20 minutes, add in the spinach leaves. They should wilt really fast. Cover the soup and let it simmer for another 15 minutes.

After the pasta finishes cooking, either let it sit until you’re about to serve the soup, or add the drained pasta directly into the soup pot.

Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

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