January 24, 2010


I have a very delicious follow-up to my cinnamon rolls recipe coming soon, but considering three of my last four posts have involved sweets I though I should post something healthy first, lest you begin to believe that I eat nothing but sugar and butter. I do in fact eat my vegetables, even if they are scattered on top of a pizza or rolled up with butter, cheese, and breadcrumbs. More often than not, though, I eat them completely unadorned or at least in healthier ways, like in this soup.

While at Matt's parents' house in the southernmost Dakota this weekend they allowed me to take over their kitchen and fix dinner for them and Matt's grandparents. After debating between split pea soup and minestrone the consensus was minestrone. I've never made it before, so I looked up a bunch of recipes, picked out what I liked from each, and altered the plan slightly based on what looked good at the grocery store. The result was a large, steamy pot brimming with veggies, beans, pasta, broth and a bit of parmesan that warmed us up and filled us up, at least until it was time for dessert.

As with most soups you can adjust the ingredient list based on what you have and what sounds good to you. The only difficult part is figuring out when to add certain ingredients so they aren't overcooked. I put the pasta in too soon so it was on the mushy side by the time we ate it, but everything else turned out well.

Serves 10-12

1 medium yellow onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 carrots, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 lg. russet potato, peeled or not and diced
1 15-oz. can white beans (cannellini or navy)
About 2 cups dry pasta, small shapes or broken noodles
1/2 head green cabbage, cut into 1" pieces*
Parmesan rind or about 1/3 cup grated parmesan, plus more for serving
1-2 bay leaves
Basil/thyme/parsley/whatever you feel like
Salt & pepper
Pesto for serving (optional)

*Spinach or kale would also be really good.

1. Over medium-high heat sauté the onion and garlic in a little olive oil for a few minutes, until the onions soften a bit.
2. Add the carrots, celery, tomatoes, broth, bay leaves, spices, and parmesan rind if you're using it. Let it simmer for several minutes until the carrots and celery begin to soften.
3. Add the potatoes and the pasta, and continue simmering. If you need additional liquid, add a little water or broth.
4. When the pasta and potatoes are almost cooked through, add the beans and cabbage.
5. Season with salt and pepper, grated parmesan (if using), and any other spices. When the cabbage softens, the soup is ready to eat.

Remove the bay leaves and serve with additional parmesan, pesto, and crusty bread.

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