This classic Italian soup is packed with nutritious vegetables, like beans, zuchini, onion, tomatoes, carrots, pasta, potato and spices. Use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version of this warm and satisfying soup. I started out using the Olive Garden Minestrone Soup recipe in Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur, but ended up using dried beans, leaving out green beans and celery and adding potato and chicken broth.
Use two 15 oz. can each for red beans and white beans if you don't have time to use dried beans. Using dried beans is less expensive, and possibly (when considering added salt) more nutritious because you are in control of the quality and preparation your ingredients.
Winter Minestrone Soup
1 cup dried small red beans, sorted and rinsed
1 cup dried small white beans, sorted and rinsed
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup minced white onion (1 small onion)
1/2 cup zuchini, shredded
4 minced cloves garlic
4 cups chicken broth
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
2 medium potatoes, diced
1/2 cup shredded or diced carrot
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 12 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
3 cups hot water
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup leftover uncooked pasta
Put beans into a pot with 5 cups water. Heat to a boil, then cover and let sit for an hour or overnight.
Rinse beans and prepare ingredients.
Heat olive oil over medium heat, and saute onions and garlic in a large pot, until onion turns translucent.
Add broth, beans, can tomatoes, carrot spices, bay leaves,, and water. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 2 hours. Add potatoes and cook 1/2 hour more. Remove bay leaves and add spinach and pasta. Cook another 20 minutes, or until desired soupy consistency.