Minestrone

Except for Campbell’s Bean with Bacon, I avoid pre-made soups altogether. They are never nearly as healthy as they advertise.  The sodium content, even when labeled “low sodium” or “no sodium,” is ridiculously high, probably to mask the fact that all the flavors have bled into one another. That’s why I make all my soup from scratch.  Soups are incredibly easy to make, they are totally customizable, and they freeze well.

Minestrone is a perfect example.  You can throw in any fresh vegetables you like with pasta and meat (if so desired), season it appropriately and voilà!  A hearty, healthy soup that will get you through a cold, rainy day that Spring seems to have forsaken.

To make the minestrone pictured below, I sautéed garlic, celery and onions with oregano, basil, salt and pepper at a very low heat until the aromatics were soft.  (Incidentally, my grocery store sells prepackaged bags of about a cup of chopped celery and onions, which are perfect for recipes like this.) Those were then dumped into a giant stock pot.  

The heat was cranked up, and the stew beef, seasoned with salt and pepper, was seared just until browned, then it, too, was added to the pot.  

Once the stock pot was moved over to the burner, the following was added:

  • diced red potatoes
  • diced carrots
  • a can of diced tomatoes
  • a can of Cannellini beans
  • frozen peas
  • frozen lima beans
  • two quarts of beef stock
  • two whole bay leaves

The whole mixture was boiled until the potatoes were fork-tender, and then a handful of ditalini pasta was added.  Top it off with a little grated Parmesan and you’ve got yourself some good eats!

It couldn’t be simpler!  And the great thing about minestrone is that you can totally customize the recipe to your own personal tastes.  Want more beans? Throw more in.  Don’t like lima beans?  Leave them out and put in broccoli. Or leave them out altogether.  Don’t like meat?  Use vegetable stock and make it vegetarian.  You can season it to your own taste, and, unless you dump in a whole container of salt, it will still be much better for you than any canned soup you’ll find on the shelf.

It will also freeze very well, so if you make too much, just throw it in some Gladware or some strong plastic zip bags and save it for another rainy day.  I do that a lot, since I seem to be able to cook only for servings of twelve when it comes to soup.  There is no more room in my freezer.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joy
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 10:32:25

    It’s impossible to make a “small” batch of soup. There’s just something about that. It is very easy to freeze and I LOVE homemade soup. I think I could eat a nice bowl of soup for lunch every single day. Great recipe and great idea.

    Reply

  2. Thom
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 22:22:53

    Looks really yummy!

    Reply

  3. nat @ book, line, and sinker
    Apr 15, 2009 @ 15:24:28

    your first sentence stopped me in my tracks. are you trying to tell me that you LIKE bean-n-bacon?! can i tell you the horror that was the bean-n-bacon debacle of ’86?!?! i can’t even talk about it.

    my mom was laid up in the hospital for 3 weeks. dad was in charge. he made B&B soup…my sister and i refused to eat it. he made us sit at the table for 7 hours. we didn’t break. it got all gross and congealed. we cried and our tears made plopping puddles in the ‘skin’ on top of the soup.

    we didn’t eat it. and still won’t.

    hahahahah. these days it’s a joke in our family but back then it was deadly serious.

    love from curly wurly gurly

    Reply

  4. maleesha
    Apr 16, 2009 @ 00:34:12

    That looks SO FRICKIN’ AWESOME. I may attempt this recipe over the weekend. I love soup! I have never made minestrone. Wow!

    Reply

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