Minestrone Soup Using Fresh or Dried Herbs

Minestrone Soup
The soup is great with fresh herbs or with dried herbs. I have made it both ways many times. Serve with a little fresh parmesan cheese on top. Delish!

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 Carrots, diced
  • 2 Celery Stalks, diced 
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 - 2 tsp Salt (depends on salt content of chicken stock)
  • dash of black pepper
  • 1 – 28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
  • 8-10 cups chicken stock (not broth) or vegetable stock
  • 1 - 1lb package frozen green beans
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine (not cooking wine, use something like cabernet or merlot - this is optional but it gives it a depth of flavor)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried (chop all the herbs)
  • 2 sprigs fresh marjoram, or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano, or 1 tsp dried
  • Handfull of fresh parsley, or 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 - 2/3 Cup Small Whole Wheat Pasta Noodles (ditalini or small shells), uncooked**
  • 1-2 medium zucchini, diced into larger bite size pieces
  • 4 basil leaves, sliced thin, or 1 tsp dried basil added with dry ingredients
  • Pkg frozen spinach or kale (approx. 8 oz)
  1. In a large soup pot (coated cast iron if possible), drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil. Sautee onions, celery and carrots on medium high heat. Sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and sautee for at least 10 minutes; stirring occasionally.
  2. Continue cooking onions, celery and carrots until brown crud forms on the bottom; stirring occasionally(Brown crud is a GOOD thing, but don't burn it). Add garlic to pot and sauté 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in diced tomatoes, cannelloni beans, green beans, chicken stock, herbs and spices, and spinach or kale. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Add in zucchini and *pasta noodles; Simmer about 6 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil. 
*The noodles will continue cooking after you turn off the burner, so it may be better to cook the zucchini for about 5 minutes and then add the pasta for about 5 minutes - this way it will finish cooking as it cools. Either way is fine, it just depends on how you like your noodles. The noodles also absorb a lot of liquid.

**If desired, the noodles can be boiled separately and added to soup bowls when serving. 

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