Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Minestrone Soup

I love Minestrone soup and absolutely love the one at Olive Garden. This one comes really, really close to tasting just like it. I will sometimes add a cup of red wine to the vegetables after they have softened and cook just long enough that the alcohol cooks out but the flavor is still there. It is still wonderful without it though and I usually leave that out. Also, do not use chicken stock - vegetable is a must! I made this while we had company last weekend and did not take any pictures... I'll be sure to add those when I make it again!

1 tablespoon olive oil or spray 
1 cup minced white onion (about 1 small onion)
1 chopped zucchini
1 cup frozen cut italian green beans
1/4 cup minced celery (about 1/2 stalk)
4 teaspoons minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
6 cups vegetable broth/stock 
2 (15 ounce) cans small white beans or great northern beans, drained and rinsed 
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup carrot, shredded
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups hot water
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup small shell pasta

Heat oil or spray in a large pot. Add and saute onion, celery, garlic, green beans, and zucchini for 5 minutes or until onions begin to soften.

Add vegetable broth/stock, tomatoes, beans, carrot, hot water, and spices.

Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

Add spinach leaves and pasta and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until desired consistency.

* Be careful not to let it cook too long after adding the pasta. If you want to let it cook all day then do not add the pasta until 20 minutes before you are going to serve it. The pasta will absorb most of the liquid as it sits.

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