Minestrone soup

minestroneTemperatures are expected to dip to close to zero tonight in the New York City area with the howling wind outside. It’s the perfect night to make soup.

My mom’s minestrone soup is one of my favorite soups to make. I especially like to make it in the fall when I can get nearly every ingredient I need at the local farmers market. There’s just something fresher and tastier about it. And a heaping bowl of it will warm your insides.

I don’t know who gave my mom the soup recipe first, but the original sheet is tattered and worn. That should tell you how often we make this soup and how much we love it.

We make this soup with ground turkey or chicken because we find it makes it lighter. You easily can omit the meat to make this vegetarian, as most traditional minestrone soups are.

The recipe calls for four types of beans, and we use red kidney beans, split peas, white navy beans and barley. You can use whatever beans you like the best. If you do use barley, you do not need to cook/soak that particular bean. It can cook easily in the soup.

I’ve made this soup with a variety of different types of pasta too ranging from elbows to ditali to small shells. Small shells and ditali are my two favorite pastas to use, but any small pasta of your choice could work.

My mother and I have different methods in preparing the pasta for the soup. I cook the pasta directly in the soup because it takes on the flavor of the soup. When you do this, though, the pasta will continue to soak up the soup as it sits, especially if you have leftovers and chill it. You will need to add more water or broth. My mother, however, cooks the pasta separately and then adds it to the soup. Her method means the pasta does not soak up the soup, which will mean you won’t need to add water/broth. But the pasta will not take on the flavor of the soup.

Minestrone Soup

1 tbsp each, four types of beans
Enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a pot
1 lb ground turkey or chicken
1 large onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 small cans of stewed tomatoes (about 14 ounces)
2 quarts chicken broth
3 c water
1/2 tsp each — dried thyme, basil, oregano & marjoram
1 c carrots cut into half moons
1 c cabbage, shredded
1 c celery, sliced thin
1 c potato, cubed
1 c green beans, cut (frozen beans also can work)
1/2 c small pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare the beans. There are two ways. First is to soak them overnight. The second is to cover them with water in a pot, boil for 2 minutes, let them sit covered for one hour and then rinse them. The shorter method is my preferred way.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Brown the ground turkey/chicken with the onion and garlic.

Crush or cut the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes, broth, water, beans and herbs to the pot. Simmer the soup for 30 minutes.

Add the vegetables (I usually cut them during the 30 minutes the soup is simmering). Cook the soup for an additional 90 minutes. Add the pasta and cook until it’s tender.

Top the soup with Parmesan cheese when you serve it.

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