Thick & Hearty Minestrone Soup

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Serve soup warm in homemade bread bowls (or regular bowls, of course!) and top with fresh parmesan cheese, if desired.
  4. 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.

Recipe Notes:

*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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