Winter Minestrone Soup
Committee meeting working lunch, 3/8/12 – served with the easiest homemade whole wheat bread
Minestrone is an Italian soup that is always adapted to include whatever is on hand. This version is simple and easy to make, and if you have a slow-cooker, it can cook all day while you’re out, or overnight. Soaking the beans requires some advance planning, but you can also use canned beans and cook the soup for less time. For more information on cooking beans, see the dry bean guide.
- ½ lb dry beans, any variety or a mix (can substitute 1 can of beans – see notes in recipe)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable, canola, or olive oil
- 1 onion, roughly chopped*
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped*
- 2 cloves garlic, minced*
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (optional)**
- 4 cups chicken stock or water
- 1 can diced tomatoes***
- 4 oz (1/4 box) dry pasta, any small shape
- black pepper
Soak the dry beans in lots of water (cover by at least 4 inches) for 8-12 hours. You can also quick-soak them: place dry beans in a pot with water to cover by 4 inches, bring to a boil for 1 minute, turn off heat, and allow to sit for 1 hour.
In a large soup pot (if you won’t be using a slow cooker) or a skillet, heat the oil. Add the chopped onion and carrots and cook on medium heat until the vegetables are just beginning to brown. Add the garlic (and rosemary, if using) and cook 1 minute more.
Stovetop instructions: Add the soaked beans, stock or water, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until beans are tender, 1-2 hours. (Note: if using canned beans, simmer only 15-20 minutes.) Add the pasta and cook for 10-15 minutes more, until pasta is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Slow cooker instructions: Transfer the cooked vegetables to the slow cooker. Add the soaked beans, stock or water, and tomatoes and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-6 hours, until beans are tender. (Note: if using canned beans, cook only 2-3 hours on low or 1-2 hours on high). Add the pasta and cook for 30 minutes more, until pasta is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Yield: 6 generous servings
*All of these can be grown here in Nebraska and stored fairly well.
**Fresh rosemary can be grown outdoors in the summer and indoors all year round. You can dry your own for later use.
***Summer tomatoes are simple to can for year-round use.