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.