Minestrone is known in Italy as “the big soup” since it is thick with colorful ingredients. It has no set list of “must have” ingredients, but vegetables in tomato broth with beans and pasta is common. In this version, fresh fennel and fennel seeds are added for even more Mediterranean flair.
½ cup water
1 bulb fennel, diced (or 3 ribs celery, diced)
½ yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
6 cups water
1 box Pomi chopped tomatoes (26 oz.) or 2 cans diced (15 oz. each)
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
6 medium white or crimini mushrooms, diced
2 medium zucchinis, diced
2 cups cooked kidney beans (or 1 15 oz. can, drained)
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup parsley leaves, chopped
2 cups cooked whole-grain elbow (or other small) pasta (about 1 ½ cups dry)
1. In a large soup pot, sauté the fresh fennel and onion in a couple tablespoons of water for about 5 minutes (adding water as needed so as not to stick), until tender and fragrant. Add the garlic, fennel seed, and red pepper flakes (along with any of the remaining water), and sauté for another 2 minutes.
2. Add the water, chopped or diced tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, and beans; stir well and cook on medium-low heat until the potatoes and carrots are tender, about 30 minutes (stirring occasionally).
3. Add the basil and parsley, and stir; add the cooked pasta, and simmer on low for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot.
Preparation: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Serves: 6 (hearty 2-cup servings)
Notes: Don’t overcook your pasta since you’ll be adding it to the soup where it will soften a bit more. / Feel free to add or substitute other ingredients that are often found in minestrone soup recipes, such as: green beans, cabbage, peas, or hearty greens like kale, chard or collards. / You may substitute the kidney beans with cannellini beans (white kidney beans) or chickpeas (garbanzo beans). / Two teaspoons fresh rosemary may be substituted for the fresh basil or tarragon.