Friday, February 15, 2013

Vegetable Minestrone

This minestrone soup is hearty and delicious.  It is chuck full of vegetables and keeps well for a quick meal anytime.  I have found that by storing the pasta separately it will keep it from absorbing extra liquid, making your soup taste fresher for longer.

Vegetable Minestrone Soup

2 T olive oil
1 T bacon fat (optional)
1 large onion, diced
2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups celery, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 sprigs fresh thyme
26 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 large zucchini, cubed
8 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
1 can cannellini beans
2 cups elbow pasta, cooked
grated Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil (and bacon fat, if using) in a large pot or dutch oven and add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and thyme.  Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften.  Using your hands, crush the tomatoes as you add them to the pot.  Add the chicken stock, bay leaf, a tablespoon of salt, a teaspoon of pepper and simmer for 30-40 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf and add the beans and zucchini.  Simmer an additional 10 minutes or until zucchini is cooked to your liking.  Taste and re-season, if necessary and remove bay leaf.  Add a large spoonful of pasta to the bottom of each bowl and ladle soup over as you serve it.  Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese (not pictured).

Sometimes I add a chunk of parmesan cheese rind with the broth and allow it to simmer with the vegetables.   I remove it at the same time as the bay leaf.  I find that it gives the soup an added layer of flavor.

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