vegetable minestrone

i have decided it is about time that i get over my fear of beans. i have never been a fan of the texture - but i figured it is time to get over it. i knew i wanted to start with cannellini beans because i knew they were a creamier texture that most.

during my semi-regular sorting of my "recipes i want to make" folder i came across a recipe for minestrone from Cooks Illustrated  magazine. i figured i would give it a whirl.

reading through the recipe i immediately had problems with it. it said to just dump everything in the pot and let it simmer for about an hour. now i don't know about you - but i always saute the veggies in my soups before adding stock. so i knew some adjustments to the recipe were needed. in the end - it really didn't resemble the original recipe anymore - but i can guarantee you - it is 1000 times better.

vegetable minestrone
inspired by  Cook's Illustrated

4 small leeks (or two medium) - white and light green parts only - sliced thin and washed
4 medium carrots - chopped into bite size pieces
1 medium onion - small dice
4 stalks celery - chopped into bite size pieces
2 baking potatoes - chopped into bite size pieces
2 zucchinis - chopped into bite size pieces
3 cups baby spinach
6 cloves garlic - minced
28 oz can diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
4 cups water
rind from parmesan - about 1 inch thick - and grate some parm for the top of the soup
1 15 oz can cannellini beans - drained and rinsed
1/2 cup orzo or other pasta
1/4 cup basil pesto
1 tbs all purpose seasoning - use your fav - mine is essence
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp italian seasoning
1 tbs sun-dried tomato paste
pinch red pepper flakes
olive oil


baby spinach




get out your biggest stock pot or dutch oven coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil. add leeks and onions and saute for 4 - 6 minutes or until translucent. add garlic and cook another minute or two.

add carrots, celery, potatoes, and zucchini and saute for 5 - 6 minutes.

saute vegetables

add salt, pepper, italian seasoning, all purpose seasoning, sun-dried tomato paste and red pepper flakes. stir to coat the veggies with spices. let cook for a couple minutes.

diced tomatoes

add tomatoes, parmesan rind, stock and water. stir and bring to a boil. once at a boil - reduce the heat to a simmer.

vegetable minestrone

add spinach and let simmer for about 20 minutes. check for seasoning and adjust as necessary - i always find it needs something - usually more salt or pepper.

vegetable minestrone

after 20 minutes - add the pasta and cook for 3 minutes, then add beans and cook for another 5 minutes.

when the pasta is cooked - veg are tender - and beans are heated through - turn off the heat and stir in pesto. (i added lemon juice to mine at the end - you can decide if you want it - i think it brightens up the flavor.)

serve with grated parmesan on top and a good crusty bread.

vegetable minestrone

vegetable minestrone

* alex thinks it was even better the next day. it keeps very well in the fridge.

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