Discovery of the day: Minestrone Redux

It's weird to be making a big pot of soup in August, but that's the kind of weather we ended up with yesterday. It was cold and rainy. I wanted soup.

This is a recipe from my former life. It was in regular rotation during soup season for years. This time I made a few modifications, tweaked proportions of veggies, etc. I admit, I was kind of worried whether it would 'hit the spot', but it did. Yeah, I could have made it strictly vegetarian if I wanted, but as a flexitarian I don't have to!

Almost Vegetarian Minestrone
Adapted from The New Basics Cookbook

2 Tblsp olive oil
1 med. onion, chopped
3 med. carrots, chopped
2 or 3 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1/4 cup red wine (opt.)
6+ cups stock (I used chicken)
1 - 28 oz can tomatoes, crushed or diced
2 Tblsp tomato paste
2 or 3 med. zucchini, diced
1 lrg waxy potato, diced (I used some new potatoes, unpeeled and quartered. See notes)
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
2 or 3 - 15 oz cans beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
2 Tblsp fresh parsley, chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
1 to 2 tsp ham soup base (opt.)
Chunk of Parmesan rind (opt.)
Salt & pepper to taste

To garnish:
Freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in soup pot over med. heat. Add onions, carrots, celery and a good pinch of salt, stir well. Cover and let vegs soften for 10 mins or so stirring occasionally. Add garlic, stir for a minute until fragrant. Add the red wine and stir to deglaze the pan. Let the wine cook down for a minute or two.

Boost the heat and add the remaining ingredients. The liquid should be just barely covering the vegs, so add more stock or water if needed. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer the heck out of it, at least half an hour, longer if you can. Garnish and serve. Goes great with crusty bread or cornbread.

  • This makes a lot, and I usually freeze the rest in dinner-sized portions. But potatoes don't freeze well -- they usually disintegrate. If that bothers you, pick them out before freezing.

  • The original recipe called for kidney beans, which is what I usually use. But cannellini beans, red beans, and even chickpeas would be fun.

  • I have a nice ham soup base (think high-quality bouillon cube) from Penzey's that I used instead of the chunk of salt pork called for in the original recipe. It worked out nicely, although I don't know if I would have missed it if I left it out.

Don't think I'm ready to embrace full-on soup season quite yet, but at least I've got my frozen bags of Minestrone just in case.

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