You have probably had this soup some time during your life, and probably as a kid. It most likely came out of a can, you added water, and brought it up to temperature. I know I was one of those kids. We are big kids now, and big kids (and little) deserve much better than canned soup.
Minestrone in my opinion equates to big bowl of Italian soup, loaded with great vegetables, stock, and tiny pasta. Meat is optional on this one, however I used bacon in mine of course, and a tiny bit of stew meat. Your end result is a soup that is extremely hearty, and a soup that you can really make your own. Lets just say it is a good way of using up your vegetables, throwing them in a pot, and the end result is something that is going to blow that can a soup that you had as a kid, far, far away. This is one of those soups that after a bit of chopping of veggies, you can leave on the stove, on low, teasing your household with wonderful smells. Enough said, lets get that bowl of soup on your table!
- 2 slices of good bacon, diced (optional)
- 1/4 lb beef stew meat (optional)
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 celery rib, diced
- 15 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 15 oz can of cannelinni beans
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 2 quarts of vegetable stock
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried sage
- 3/4 cup of dried orzo
- Fresh grated or sliced Parmigiano-Reggiano
Don’t get me wrong here. You add whatever else you might want to add. Some like cabbage, and others like spinach. I did not have those on hand, so they got left out, hence what makes Minestrone so awesome. You end up with a killer veggie soup, with a killer herb broth, and the saltiness from the cheese. C’mon now. Lets keep going.
Get your soup pot heated up. Add in the chopped bacon and cook until nice and crisp. Add in the beef stew. You will use the bacon fat to cook the vegetables, until tender. So, once the bacon is crisp, add in the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots. Throw in a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and give a good stir. Add in the tomatoes, broth, and your herbs. Mix again. Cover, and cook for at least one hour. I keep mine on the stove, on low for about 2-3 hours.
Before you are ready to serve, toss in the orzo and cook for about 20-30 minutes. Remove your bay leaves as you do not want those floating in a bowl. Taste, and season with salt and pepper if needed. Just before serving in your bowls, add the diced zucchini, and give a nice stir. Ladle in your soup bowls and either grate, or slice some of the Parmigiano-Reggiano onto the top of the soup. Dig in and enjoy. My wife and I ate this for a couple of days, and it was really great. Packed full of flavor and healthy ingredients, you cannot go wrong on this soup. Enjoy.