Cookin' With Carol's Minestrone Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
6 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
1/2 cup ditalini pasta (or any small shapes; macaroni, orzo, etc.)
2 small zucchini squash, diced
1 cup green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
Croutons, for garnish
In a deep pot or Dutch oven on the stove, set heat to medium-low, add olive oil, and sauté onion and garlic for 1 to 2 minutes, until they begin to appear translucent. Add carrots, celery, and red bell pepper; cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add diced tomatoes (with juices), tomato sauce, chicken broth, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper, and raise the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Add cannellini beans, pasta, zucchini, and green beans; cook over medium heat, uncovered, until the pasta and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and croutons.
Chop and slice the vegetables to a consistent size for even cooking. Chunks of vegetables about 1/2- to 1-inch is recommended. Modify this recipe to your taste—use any vegetables you like.
Dried herbs are used in this soup due to the long cooking time. Add a sprinkle of chopped fresh oregano and basil as a garnish for the best flavor.
Cannellini beans are recommended; however, use any type of bean you desire: kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, etc. Canned beans are convenient, but cooking dried beans from scratch for this soup is highly recommended if you have the time.
If available, use low-sodium canned products, such as tomatoes and beans.
For the best Parmesan cheese, freshly grate a chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano over each serving.
For the best croutons, use a thinly sliced ciabatta baguette. Spread the slices on a baking sheet, drizzle olive oil over all, and lightly sprinkle with garlic powder (or finely minced fresh garlic). Heat in a 350º F oven until lightly toasted, about 5 to 10 minutes.