I have been craving minestrone for a few weeks now. Not my usual quickie-minestrone, but the kind of simmering-for-hours minestrone that would welcome my husband the minute he opened the door, with a giant fragrant "hug." The kind that if I HAD an Italian grandmother she might bring over on days just like this when it's foggy & drippy, just to cheer me up.
Ahh well, with no Italian grandmothers popping up to claim me I'll just have to make my own soup.
I love to make soup on cold days. It's the only food I know that can be as fast or as slow-cooking as I choose, and come out "just right" every single time. Today I felt like taking my time, and oh am I glad that I did. This is rich, savory, and wonderful... yet there's nothing in it to make my tummy regret having come back for seconds. In a word, perfect.
To share in this wonderful perfection you will need:
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 cup frozen green beans
1 14oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes
1 can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 can white beans, drained & rinsed
8 cups water
2 vegetable bouillon cubes (the ones I use are double-size; you want enough to equal 4 cups of broth)
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
8oz uncooked Tinkyada pasta (yep, I'm being brand-specific here on purpose... you don't want any leftovers turning to mush!)
and 1/4 cup fresh pesto
In a large pot, saute all of the raw veggies until the onion turns clear. Now add everything else EXCEPT the pasta & pesto. *For the best flavor turn the burner as low as it'll go, place a lid on the pot, and let it sit for four hours. (yes the crockpot would work fine, but I always double my soup recipes & my crockpot isn't big enough!) Give it a stir every once in awhile, but don't worry about diligence... this is a soup for sleepy days when you'd rather not spend all day in the kitchen but still want that cooked-all-day flavor! Twenty minutes before serving, add in the pasta & pesto and TURN THE STOVE OFF to let the pasta cook.
*Like most soups, you can speed this up when you're in a hurry. Just bring the heat up to a nice lively simmer, and cook for 30-45 minutes. It will be ALMOST as wonderful!