When I was a kid, our extended family used to love meeting up for big dinners regularly at our neighborhood Italian restaurant, DeFazio’s. Everyone would order these huge steaming plates of delicious pastas, salads, sides and more. And Yours Truly would order…”plain spaghetti”. Oh yes. I was the token picky eater in the family. And no thank you, I did not want to “just try it”. ;)
Luckily, though, everyone at DeFazio’s always received a steaming bowl of minestrone soup as an appetizer. And over the years, I began to grow more and more fond of this yummy pasta soup, even though I would have had a small heart attack at age 10 if anyone had told me that there was zucchini snuck in there!
Years later, I still adore a good bowl of classic minestrone soup. And as a veggie-lover, I often use this soup as a delicious and easy way to use up various extra or leftover veggies that I may have on hand. And even better, while this is simple to make on the stove, you can also easily throw everything in a slow cooker and come home to a wonderful dinner all ready to go. So comforting, and always delicious.
I may or may not even make a bowl of “plain spaghetti” to go with it sometimes. ;)
A fresh and easy recipe for classic minestrone soup.
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 small zucchini, diced
- 1 small yellow squash, diced
- 2 small carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup dry red wine (optional)
- 5-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (28 oz) can reduced sodium diced tomatoes, with juices
- 2 (15 oz) cans beans, rinsed and drained (I used 1 can each of black beans and Great Northern)
- 3 cups chopped fresh baby spinach or kale
- 1/2 cup dried pasta
- salt and pepper
- freshly-grated Parmesan for serving
Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, celery and garlic and cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender. Add the red wine and stir to deglaze the pan, using a spoon to scrape up any brown bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook for 2 minutes to reduce slightly.
Then add the chicken or vegetable stock, oregano, thyme, black pepper, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, tomatoes, and beans. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for at least 15-20 minutes.
10 minutes before serving, stir in the spinach (or kale) and pasta noodles. Stir occasionally until al dente. Remove the bay leaves and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
Serve hot garnished generously with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese.