Hearty Italian Minestrone

Minestrone with Cheese2

It’s a blustery February afternoon with freezing rain outside as I write this, and I can’t help but believe that a warm, hearty bowl of minestrone would make all of the cold weather blues just go away. This minestrone is warm and flavorful without being too complicated, and it is packed with vegetables, so it makes me feel good about taking second helpings!Minestrone Close Up

I first made this soup for a family soup dinner. It was a big hit, so I have made it a few times and refined it along the way. I adapted my minestrone recipe from the Food Network recipe here. I have looked at a lot of different recipes in cook books and online and tried to put together a minestrone that includes all of my favorite ingredients.

Minestrone Close Up2

The Food Network recipe came the closest to what I was looking for in a minestrone–basically everything but the kitchen sink. I have added extra chicken broth to the recipe as well as sausage, cabbage, and ditalini pasta. I also changed the tomatoes a bit.

Prep time: 15 minutes, mostly spent dicing vegetables as the soup simmers away

Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 2 t minced garlic (about 3-4 cloves, depending on size)
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 pound fresh green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 28-oz can stewed tomatoes, diced (save juice in can to add to soup too)
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 4 cups cabbage cut into bite-sized pieces (I used about a half a green cabbage)
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cooked ditalini pasta
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
First, begin cooking the sausage in a skillet over medium heat. As that is cooking, dice the onions and add them to a stock pot with the olive oil. Cook over medium heat until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and reduce the heat to low. Let the onions and garlic simmer while the sausage finishes cooking. It should be almost finished by now. It takes about 10 minutes to cook all the way through.
Cook the Onions Remove the Italian sausage from the heat. Do not drain. Add the meat to the onion mixture. Next add the 8 cups of chicken broth and stir.
Add the Chicken Broth
Continue simmering over medium-low heat while you prepare the vegetables. First, wash the green beans. Then trim and cut them into 1/2-inch pieces.
Wash the Green Beans Add the green beans to the soup and dice the celery and carrots.
Add Green Beans Dice the CeleryOpen your cans of diced and stewed tomatoes. Pour the diced tomatoes into the soup along with the juice. Drain the stewed tomato juice into the soup and dice the drained stewed tomatoes into pieces about the size of the diced tomatoes. You can do this by hand or using a food processor or chopper.
Cut Stewed Tomatoes
Add the diced stewed tomatoes to the soup along with the dried oregano and basil and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Increase the heat to medium and let the soup come to a boil.
Let the Soup Boil
While the soup is cooking, drain and rinse the beans, begin boiling the water for the pasta  and cut up the cabbage. After the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer until the vegetables are tender. During this time, cook the pasta and at it, along with the cabbage and beans to the soup.
Add the Cabbage You want to add the pasta and beans toward the very end of cooking so they don’t overcook and become mushy. I made the mistake of letting the pasta sit in the soup for too long before serving and they increase quite a bit in size! You can still eat it this way (after all, this soup is delicious the next day), but I like it best right after it is finished when the pasta is still firm. If you know you are not going to be eating it right away, you might just want to leave the pasta out and add it before serving. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top and enjoy.
Minestrone with Cheese Minestrone Close Up3 Minestrone Close Up5
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