Minestrone Soup

by Laurie Gerstman (Ush)

Amount: 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. The flavors develope with time and this soup is definitely at its best on the second day.

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 them 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 olice 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 past, spinach or chrd, and the beans with theur broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the fresh pasil just before serving. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Laurie's Experience

1) 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.

2) I used canned tomatoes.

Reprinted from Field of Greens, New Vegetarian Recipes from the Celebrated Greens Restaurant by Annie Somerville.