While preggers with Peyton, I was craving Olive Garden’s minestrone soup.
I was not craving going there, enduring the wait, and paying their asking price (especially at dinner time).
I hunted around and found a great knock-off recipe at Recipezaar.
I have been loving it ever since!
Let me start by saying that it might be best to half this recipe, unless you have a giant pot (mine isn’t big enough) and if you don’t mind eating this for days. (I don’t, Merrill does.)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup minced white onion
1/2 cup chopped zucchini
1/2 cup frozen cut Italian green beans (I haven’t been able to find these since the local grocery store was bought out, I use the regular frozen green beans. Canned beans gives the soup a funny flavor.)
1/4 cup minced celery
4 teaspoons minced garlic
4 cups vegetable broth (DO NOT USE CHICKEN BROTH!)
2 (15 ounce) cans red kidney beans (drained)
2 (15 ounce) cans small white beans or Great Northern Beans (drained)
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup carrots julienned or shredded
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon 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 the olive oil in a large soup pot. Saute onion, celery, garlic, green beans, and zucchini in the oil for 5 minutes or until onions begin to turn translucent.
Add vegetable broth to pot along with tomatoes (I don’t drain these), beans, carrots, hot water, and spices. Bring soup to a boil, reducing heat to allow it to simmer for 20 minutes. Add spinach and allow them to cook for an additional 20 minutes, or until the soup has reached a desired consistency.
I learned to boil my pasta in a separate pot until it reaches the “al dente” stage, drain it, and when the soup is ready, ladle the pasta into the serving bowl first, then pour the hot soup over the top. This way, the pasta is the perfect tenderness, not too mushy.
I love to top this with an Italian 3 cheese blend .
I also love to have it with yummy bread. One of my favorites, and something we usually have on hand, are hard rolls. I cut them in half, spread on a butter, garlic, and parsley mixture, and set it under the broiler until the butter is just melted and the edges of the roll are golden.
Mmmm.. comfort food!
(Makes about 8, 1 1/2 cup servings.)