Make-it-your-own minestrone


I started with the Moosewood Cookbook minestrone recipe, made a few changes and ended up with what is now my essential veggie soup template (if it’s not mixing disciplines too much to call a recipe a “template”). I’ve never made it exactly the same way twice – it’s so substitution friendly, you can change it based on whim or cupboard contents or both.

2 tablespoons olive, canola or other vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed (If you love garlic, don’t be afraid to use 4 to 5 cloves)
2 cups peeled and cubed winter squash (Dealing with raw squash can be time consuming; I usually use a package or two of frozen butternut squash that is already prepared)
2 celery stalks, diced (Optional)
1/2 cup peeled and diced carrots (Optional)
2 to 3 cups cubed potatoes (Yukon Golds are great. Use less or more depending on amount of other vegetables used.)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, basil and thyme (Or experiment with your favorite herbs)
Salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
6 cups broth/water (I typically use a 4-cup carton of vegetable broth plus 2 cups water – if you use water only, you will probably want to increase the salt and herbs. I usually add a splash or three of wine – white, red, vermouth, whatever.)
4 cups chopped kale (Other greens can work too, but kale holds up really well to cooking and reheating. This is a great way to get fabulously nutritious greens into your tummy!)
1 1/2 cups cooked or canned white beans such as Cannellini or Great Northern (15-ounce can, drained)

Other substitution suggestions:
Can of chopped or crushed stewed tomatoes, or chopped fresh tomatoes, added with other veggies
Chopped fresh green beans, added with other veggies
Grated parmesan or romano cheese for serving
Pesto/pistou sauce for serving

Warm the oil in a large stockpot on medium heat. Add the onions, then garlic and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the squash (if raw), celery, carrots, potatoes, herbs, 2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper and broth/water; once it has returned to medium heat, cook for 10 minutes or so – until the potatoes are almost done.
Add the kale and simmer for a couple minutes, then add the beans and squash (if pre-cooked frozen) and simmer for another couple minutes, until kale is tender and beans and squash are hot.
Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve immediately (Great with rustic bread!)

Makes a big ol’ pot of soup


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