Minestrone Soup

Laurie Gerstman shares this summer minestrone soup from Field of Greens, New Vegetarian Recipes from the Celebrated Greens Restaurant by Annie Somerville.  She also provides a hearty winter variation.  The flavors develops with time and this soup is definitely at its best on the second day.

Makes 8-9 cups

Fresh ripe tomatoes make a difference here – their sweet juice works with the flavorful bean broth and the starch of the pasta to make a delicious base for this summer vegetable soup. Cook the red beans with a sprig of oregano and leaves of sage and bay; as the beans cook, they’ll release their starch and take on the essence of the herbs.  For a hearty winter minestrone, you can add white beans or chick peas and substitute ribbons of chard or kale for the spinach.

  • 1/2 cup dried red beans, about 3 ounces, sorted and soaked overnight.
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-size red onion, diced, about 2 cups
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4t dried basil
  • 1/4t dried oregano
  • 1 small carrot, diced about 3/4
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, diced about 3/4 cup
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced about 3/4 cup
  • 1 small zucchini, about 3/4 cup
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 lbs. fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped, about 3 cups, or 1 – 28oz can tomatoes with juice, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup small pasta, cooked al dente, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 bunch fresh spinach or chard, cut into thin ribbons and washed, about 2 cups packed
  • 2 T chopped fresh basil
  • grated Parmesan cheese

  • Drain and rinse the beans.
  • Place the beans in a 2-quart saucepan with the water, 1 bay leaf, the sage leaves, and the oregano.
  • Bring to boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, until the beans are tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Remove herbs.
  • While the beans are cooking,
    • heat the olive oil in a soup pot.
    • Add the onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, dried herbs, and a few pinches of pepper.
    • Saute the onion over medium heat until soft, 5 to 7 minutes.
    • Add the garlic, peppers and zucchini and saute for 7 to 8 minutes.
    • Add the wine and cook to 1 to 2 minutes, until the pan is almost dry.
  • Add the tomatoes, then the pasta, spinach or chard, and the beans with their broth.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the fresh basil just before serving.
  • Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Laurie’s Experience

  • For ease, I used canned and bottled beans, instead of dry.  The ratio is 1 dairy:3 cooked.  The beans, their liquid and water should total 7 1/2 cups.
  • I used canned tomatoes.