Chicken noodle soup has its place among cold cures, but when you’ve felt bleh for a week and have eaten nothing but dry cereal and cheese for the past 2 days, vegetables just sound good. I was in such a predicament, and minestrone soup was the only thing on earth that sounded good to eat. I needed the soup to taste good on the first try (I couldn’t handle any more cereal), and I was pessimistic about my creative abilities after several sub-par dinner experiments (grape juice is a bad substitute for wine in coq au vin, in case you were wondering), so I turned to the random recipe insert that came with my dutch oven.
The ingredients and preparation were so basic, I was sure the soup was going to turn out lame. I had my trusty make-everything-taste-better ingredient (Chicken Better than Bouillon) next to the stove as I added ingredients, because I was convinced the soup was not going to be satisfactory without some help from the meat world. When I tasted it though, I was amazed. It was perfect and I felt better already. The tiny and tender vegetables were swimming in super savory tomato-y rosemary-y broth. The flavor was so clean: no smoked ham, no bacon, no sausage* to get in the way of the fresh vegetable taste. I was so excited I could hardly wait for it to cool down. I couldn’t believe how good it tasted for so simple a recipe, and as I finished my 3rd bowl, I decided I had to share it.
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Classic Minestrone Soup
This soup is incredible on its own, but add some fresh Parmigiano Reggiano and a few drizzles of olive oil in your bowl and you just might eat the whole pot by yourself too.
1 large onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced fine
1 large celery stalk, diced fine
¼ tsp dried rosemary
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups diced tomatoes with their juice (fresh or canned)
1 large potato, peeled and diced fine
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese and more olive oil, for serving
In a large pot, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, rosemary, and a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to turn golden, about 8 minutes
Add the garlic, and stir around for a minute. Add the tomatoes, and cook until some of the liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Add the potato, cannellini beans, and 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Add in the spinach, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Taste and season with lots of salt and pepper (don’t be shy with these – I found it needed a few big pinches of salt and lots of pepper)
To serve, ladle into bowls, top with grated Parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil.
If you’re in the mood for these flavors, the recipe is very forgiving. Add in some ground sausage or bacon with the onion, carrots, and celery. Other than the addition of meat, this recipe could be adapted to fit a variety of vegetables you have on hand. Leeks, fennel, or bell peppers would all be welcome additions.