It’s chilly here in Central Florida and that makes it soup time. I was too lazy yesterday to go fetch the ingredients for clam chowder (my favorite), beef for stew, or chicken for chicken soup although I had the orzo, so I made use of what I had at home—fresh veggies, pasta, and dried cannellini beans.
I’m especially particular about Minestrone Soup. I don’t like minestrone soup made with great northern beans or dark or red kidney beans although cannellini beans are white kidney beans. I’m not a fan of weird pasta shapes in my soup either. I like broken pieces of thin spaghetti or vermicelli. Tomato sauce or meat based broths aren’t at the top of my list. I absolutely cannot do canned veggies (not a fan of frozen veggies either). Kernels of corn floating in the soup along with small green lima beans is downright sinful. I’m rather traditional when it comes to minestrone soup.
I usually soak the dried beans the day before I make the soup or at least 12 hours before. The beans will cook up much faster without soaking up too much broth. I prefer savoy cabbage, but regular green cabbage works fine when savoy is not available. Fresh tomatoes peeled and seeded are especially tasty. I simmer the beans, cabbage, and carrots in a vegetable stock seasoned with fresh oregano and basil. About 5-8 minutes before it’s ready to serve I add the sliced zucchini and the broken pieces of spaghetti so that it cooks al dente. A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and a bit of grated parmesan finishes the dish.
Freshly baked bread, minestrone soup, and a glass of wine is the perfect comfort food on a chilly winter’s day.
- 1 cup dried navy or cannellini beans
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 12 cups vegetable stock
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 2 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
- 3 large basil leaves, broken into pieces
- 3 carrots, sliced thin
- 2 cups zucchini, sliced
- 1 cup angel hair or thin spaghetti, broken into pieces
- pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- salt & pepper
Rinse beans well. Put in a large bowl or pot, cover with at least 2 inches of water, and soak overnight.
Drain beans. Heat the extra virgin olive oil and large stock pot. Add onion, crushed red pepper, and garlic; Cook over low-medium heat until tender. Add beans and vegetable stock; cover and simmer until beans are tender, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, basil, and oregano to stock. Simmer until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.
Add broken spaghetti and sliced zucchini. Adjust seasoning. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.