Minestrone is known in Italy as “the big soup,” chock full of kidney beans, mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, and pasta. Fennel, garlic, and basil also add to the Mediterranean flair of this famous soup.
1½ pounds white potatoes, peeled and chopped (about 4½ cups)
2 medium carrots, sliced (about 1½ cups)
1 can cooked red kidney beans (15 ounces; 1½ cups), drained and rinsed
6 medium white or cremini mushrooms, sliced (about 2½ cups)
1 medium zucchini, sliced (about 2 cups)
½ cup chopped fresh basil
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 cups cooked whole-grain small-shell or elbow pasta (about 1½ cups dry)
Heat 1 tablespoon of water in a soup pot over medium-high heat. When the water starts to sputter, add the onion and fresh fennel, and cook while stirring for 3 to 5 minutes, adding a little water as needed.
Stir in the garlic, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes, and cook while stirring for 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir in the water, tomatoes (with liquid), potatoes, carrots, and kidney beans, and bring to a boil, uncovered. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook for 25 minutes.
Stir in the mushrooms and zucchini, and cook for 5 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots are tender. Add the basil, parsley, and cooked pasta, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more.
For a thicker, more tomato-y broth, add ½ to 1 can (6 ounces) salt-free tomato paste.