Minestrone Soup

I have made this a few times, most recently for dinner on Easter (very festive, I know). I realize that this is not a traditional minestrone, mostly because Dad and I debated the finer points and as it turns out, I am wrong. However, Todd and I are pretty sure its perfect!

I wanted to post this before the last of the chilly days are gone. On a cold afternoon this soup is great because it is hearty and fast. Best of all, the only fat in the whole pot is the extra virgin olive oil, so you can feel better about sitting on your butt all day. I hope that you try this one out – feel free to cut the recipe in half, it makes a ton.

Minestrone Soup
Serves 5-6

1 large yellow onion, large dice
1 lb. whole carrots, peeled and sliced
1 c. Dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
3 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes
3 15 oz. cans cannellini beans
3 medium zucchinis, diced
¾ bag of baby spinach (or 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped)
1 c. Pastina (small soup pasta – I use DaVinci brand)
4 T. oregano
3 T. basil
1 t. garlic powder
½ t. Freshly grated nutmeg
½ Leftover roasted chicken, diced
chicken stock to cover by 2 inches

In an large soup pot over medium heat, add the onion, carrot, salt and pepper. Sauté until onion is soft and translucent, but not browned. Raise the heat to med-high and add the wine to deglaze the pan; allow to cook for 1-3 minutes (just until the alcohol is gone). Then add the tomatoes, beans, garlic powder, nutmeg, and half of the oregano and basil. Cover vegetables with chicken stock, cover with a lid, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow soup to simmer until you are ready to eat – I recommend not more than 1 hour – this is a quick cooking soup.

Return to a slow/low boil; add the zucchini, pastina, and rest of the basil and oregano. Simmer until pastina is al dente (check package directions). Stir in the spinach and it’s done. Serve topped with a dollop of pesto (if you have some), grated parmesan cheese and fresh bread.
Remember this is a rustic Italian soup; you can substitute whatever vegetables you have or like. This recipe happens to be the way I like mine. When substituting, keep in mind that you are trying to keep all of the vegetables the same or similar size so that they cook evenly.

** If you don’t have left over chicken, you could use fresh chicken and add it to the soup after you lower it to a simmer, after most of the vegetables have been added. If you boil raw meat, it will become tough, not tender – so make sure you keep the heat low.

Also, when you reheat this soup (it’s even better), you may have to add some stock or water to bring it back to the proper consistency.

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