Thick & Hearty Minestrone Soup
Since it’s bread bowl month and all…
it only makes sense to share a new soup recipe too. 🙂
I’m not really sure if I should call this minestrone, but I’m rolling with it. I made it the other week and we both loved it more than I anticipated. I mean, it’s vegetable soup. It’s not flashy in the slightest. Still, I’m singing its praises because it’s not only healthy, warm, and wholesome, its savory flavors and thickness keeps me full and satisfied. And I made it again since then! We’ve absolutely loved it on these cold winter days, especially served in giant homemade bread bowls.
Figured you’d appreciate this recipe too!!
What makes it different? This minestrone soup is much heartier than what we’re used to, almost like a chili, which is why I love it so much. Not super brothy, know what I’m sayin? I’m not a huge fan of pasta (I KNOW I KNOW… WEIRD), so I use rice. The rice soaks up a lot of liquid, which helps thicken it up. I add an 8-ounce can of tomato paste, which is typically more than most minestrone soup recipes. I also throw in fresh zucchini, carrots, celery, and spinach plus lots of canned beans. Those are all pretty typical in minestrone. There’s also garlic, onion, diced tomato, and a hefty dose of seasoning. There’s so much color and texture in 1 spoonful, how can you not be satisfied?!
This soup is pretty forgiving. Play around with the veggies based on what you like. I loved big butter beans in this soup, but I want to try it with chickpeas next. Maybe instead of spinach, a little kale? Why not. Skip a can of beans and add frozen peas? Worth a shot. Maybe a cup of corn? Let’s do it.
Whichever veggies you use, I recommend sticking with the seasonings, tomato paste, and veggie broth– these all make up the flavorful tomato base of the soup.
And in addition to breaking out of my baking comfort zone this year, I’m working on breaking out of my photography comfort zone too! Here’s my attempt at falling food.
This was shot number, like, 38. Less is more when it comes to these types of photos. We were working with way too much cheese in the beginning and it looked like a big cheese dump, rather than a pretty sprinkle. 😉 I’ll keep practicing these!
Stay warm, have fun baking the bread bowls, and let me know if you enjoy this thicker style minestrone!
Thick & Hearty Minestrone Soup
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1/2 of a large onion)
- 1 cup sliced or diced carrots (1-2 large carrots or a handful of baby carrots)
- 1 cup sliced or diced celery (2-3 stalks)
- 1 cup sliced or diced zucchini (about 1 small)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- a bunch of Italian seasoning (I used a generous Tablespoon)*
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 5-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth*
- 2 cups water
- 2-3 teaspoons red wine vinegar*
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 (14 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed*
- 1 (14 ounce) can butter beans, drained and rinsed*
- 1 (14 ounce) can green beans, drained and rinsed*
- 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
- 1 (8 ounce) can tomato paste
- 1 and 1/3 cups uncooked rice or pasta*
- 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
- parmesan cheese, for serving
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a 4 quart (or larger) pot or dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and thyme. Stir and cook for 6-7 minutes as the vegetables soften up and let out some juices.
- Add broth, water, red wine vinegar, bay leaf, all the beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then add uncooked rice or pasta. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes. Stir in the chopped spinach and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove bay leaf.
- Serve soup warm in homemade bread bowls (or regular bowls, of course!) and top with fresh parmesan cheese, if desired.
- Keep leftovers in a large tupperware in the refrigerator for up to a week. To reheat, simply pour into a pot over medium heat and cook until warm. Feel free to add more broth to the leftovers as it cooks if it is too thick-- I always do. (It thickens in the refrigerator as the veggies and rice soak up the liquid.)
Freezing: Soup freezes wonderfully! Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator the day before eating, then reheat on the stove until warm.
*If you don't have Italian seasoning, you can use any combination of Italian spices that you like. Dried basil, rosemary, oregano, etc.
*Anywhere between 5-6 cups of broth is great. I use 6. The rice or pasta soak up a lot of liquid.
*The vinegar balances out all the flavor. A few splashes of a dry-ish red wine works too!
*Play around with the beans you use. I loved the big giant butter beans, but feel free to use the more traditional cannellini beans instead. Or try chick peas!
*Use brown or white rice or any dry pasta you like best. Stick with smaller shaped pasta so it fits on your spoon. 🙂
Slow cooker directions: Prepare the soup through step 1 on the stovetop. Transfer to a slow cooker, then add everything else except for the rice/pasta and spinach. Allow to cook for 2 hours on low, then add the rice/pasta and spinach. Cook on low for 1 more hour.
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