This is a recent successful combination of several minestrone recipes (Joy of Cooking and Love Soup). It does involve lots of chopping, but it makes a big pot and keeps beautifully all week. I’ve been making it on Sunday nights for the last two weeks and eating it for lunches.
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut in 1-inch lengths
2 zucchini, diced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (a generous handful)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped (again, no need to be too precise)
1 roasted red bell pepper, diced (out of a jar!)
1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz)
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
10 cups broth (I use 10 cups water and 3 cubes Rapunzel vegetable bouillon)
1 cup small pasta (orzo, elbow macaroni, baby shells)
1 tsp salt (depending on your broth)
Saute onions in 2 T olive oil until soft. Add remaining vegetables and herbs (I just chop and add as I go, stirring occasionally) and saute for a few minutes. Add canned tomatoes, beans, and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add pasta and cook for 10 more minutes. Taste and season if necessary.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a grind of black pepper, and a sprinkle of parmesan. Get yourself a baguette and a glass of white wine, and you are set!
Variations: I keep forgetting to actually try this, but apparently you can throw in the rind from a wedge of parmesan cheese while the soup simmers, and it gives the vegetable broth a great flavor. You can also use chicken broth.
If you want to be really decadent (a la Joy of Cooking), you can add two chopped slices of bacon when you start sauteeing the onions.
Chickpeas are the beans of choice in the Love Soup version. I’m always a fan of either type.
I’m sure spinach or chard would be a nice addition or substitution to the vegetables. Jarred roasted red peppers are what I had, and I like the convenience, but you could either roast your own or just put in a fresh pepper. You could also use fresh tomatoes, and/or more of them. (I’ve actually been putting in 1 1/2 small cans, or 3/4 of a large can, but that isn’t very efficient in recipe-writing terms. Fortunately I’ve done it two weeks in a row and used up the extra.)