Those who know me well can attest to the fact that I am a soup junkie. I could eat soup for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Growing up, my mom made this recipe regularly. To this day, when I head back to Michigan, it’s no surprise to see that she has a big pot of minestrone bubbling away on the stove (can you smell it?).
I heard from my sister, Sammy, today. She is a freshman in college and still getting used to cafeteria food. She’ll occasionally send me text messages about what’s on the menu in the caf. “Taco Tuesday!” “Real sushi chef today at the union!” “Sandwich for dinner, nothing else looked good.” I loved this next one: “I was really pumped about the caf having minestrone soup for lunch. It sucked compared to Mom’s!” Made me chuckle out loud.
Not much compares to your (well, my) mom’s cooking. So, in honor Mom, I decided to share her homemade minestrone soup recipe. Her spin on the classic uses both cannellini and garbanzo beans (she can’t help it, she is Lebanese), as well as seasonal vegetables, and orzo. It’s a very easy recipe, easily modified to cater to the seasonal vegetables available at the market.
Soon enough, Sammy, you will be home. A pot of Mom’s Homemade Minestrone Soup will be bubbling away on the stove for you. I know from experience.
This soup is warming for both the body and soul. Get your kitchen smelling great and MAKE IT SOON!
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 sticks celery, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 zucchini, chopped
- 1 small leek, washed well and chopped
- 1 cup green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 28 ounce cans chopped plum tomatoes
- 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Large pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 2 inch piece parmesan cheese rind (if you do not have this, leave it out)
- 1 cup orzo
- 6 oz bag spinach
- 1 tbsp lemon
- Grated parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and fresh parsley for serving
Heat a large pot over medium heat and add olive oil. Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Add a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes. Add zucchini, leek, and green beans. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, garbanzo beans, cannellini beans, and broth. Bring the soup to a light boil and add kale, bay leaf, oregano, rosemary, 1/4 cup parsley, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese rind. Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove parmesan cheese rind and rosemary stem. Add orzo and cook for 12 minutes until pasta is cooked through. (Note: If you plan to make this soup and eat it over the course of a few days, cook the orzo in a separate pot on the side. If you cook the orzo in the soup and do not eat it the same night, the orzo will absorb too much of the broth.) Add spinach and lemon juice and cook an additional 3 minutes until spinach is wilted. Serve with grated parmesan cheese, fresh basil and parsley. If desired, serve with warm bread.
Note: We use a lot of parmesan cheese in our house. When we finish a wedge of cheese, we place the rind in a ziplock bag in the freezer to add to soups and stews at a later date. This adds a big boost of flavor. Give this a try the next time you finish a wedge of parm. If you don’t have a spare parmesan cheese wedge hanging out in your freezer, skip this step in the recipe.