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Vegan Planet: Mmmm…Minestrone

Tuesday, May 12, 2009



Sometimes when I’m too busy to cook, I think minestrone! Last week was one of those weeks when I didn’t even have time to eat, much less cook, so I was glad I had a pot of minestrone simmering on the stove. A good vegetable soup makes a quick and easy meal that can get you through a few days. The bonus is that the soup gets better with each reheat.

Like any good minestrone, I include a wide variety of vegetables, typically whatever I have on hand. It’s usually a combination of the usual fresh soup-starters: onion, carrot, and celery, along with some zucchini and spinach, if I’ve got them, or some frozen veggies, if I don't. I also add beans — this time it was Great Northerns — and a can of diced tomatoes. Near the end of cooking time, I toss in some frozen green peas.

For this batch, I added some brown rice to cook right in the soup, but you could also add some cooked pasta, rice, or orzo when ready to serve. A spoonful of pesto swirled in at the end adds a wonderful flavor note.

This recipe is adapted from my book, Quick-Fix Vegetarian. As noted in the recipe headnote, this recipe is more of a guide than a gospel — add whatever vegetables you prefer, season it the way you like, and if you have time, it’s best to cook it a bit longer, the flavor only gets better.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup frozen lima beans
2 cups chopped fresh zucchini (or frozen Italian vegetables)
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (16-ounce) can white beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (the amount of salt needed depends on the saltiness of your broth)
3 cups baby spinach
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (or pesto)
Cooked rice or soup pasta (optional)

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cover and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, then add the limas, frozen vegetables (or zucchini), tomatoes and their juices, beans, and broth. Add the basil, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes to an hour. A few minutes before serving time, stir in the spinach and parsley (or pesto). Taste to adjust seasonings. Stir in the rice or pasta if using.

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Oh, thanks Robin! I was just posting about wanting a savory non-pepper-filled bean soup, and I was pointed to this post! It looks wonderful, I think I'll make it for dinner.
My father is a huge fan of minestrone and I always try to make it for him whenever we see my parents. He has yet to be fully blown away by any of the recipes i've tried. Simplicity is key, and yours looks perfect! Can't wait to try it.
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