Minestrone Soup ~ Boy Howdy!

I made a friend in town and we got to talking about food so he sent me this recipe for Minestrone Soup.   Almost every time I saw him in town he'd ask about the soup and what I thought adding "it's really good, Vicky you have to try it!"  That was - and I can't believe how time goes," June of 2011!!!  Last week I saw him and he asked - I of course said not yet and he handed me a printed version.  Well, wait no more I made it last night and it is not just good it's outstanding!  It's so tasty my dad said to make sure I set a bowl aside for him to have for lunch the next day.  It's a "keeper!"

Homemade Minestrone soup


3 TB olive oil
1 cup minced onion (or diced small)
1/2 cup chopped zucchini (I used close to a cup)
1/2 cup Italian green beans* (I used regular)
1/2 cup minced celery (or diced small)
4 tsp minced garlic
4 cups of vegetable broth (homemade or not, I used Pacific)
2 (15oz) red kidney beans (O Organic), drained
2 (15oz) small white beans (I used O Organic cannelloni beans), drained
1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes (I used Pomi), drained - (I semi drained)
1/2 cup carrot (julienned or shredded) I use extra
2 TB minced fresh parsley (I had dried from the garden use less)
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil (I used 1tsp heaping + of fresh minced)
1/4 tsp dried thyme
3 cups hot water
4 cups fresh Baby Spinach
1/2 cup small shell pasta (I used Delallo Organic Orzo no.65, 3/4 cup)

1.  Prepare all your ingredients and get your water ready to heat.
2.  In the (large) pot you'll be making your soup in, heat 3 TB of olive oil over medium heat.
3.  Saute onion, celery, garlic, green beans* and zucchini in oil for 5 minutes or until onion begins to turn translucent.  I also put my carrots in at this time since they take longer to cook sometimes and I didn't use a shredded cut.
4.  Add vegetable broth to pot, tomatoes, beans, carrot (unless previous), hot water, and spices
5.  Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
6.  Add spinach leaves and paste and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until desired consistency.
Makes about eight 1 & 1/2 cup servings.

*On the Italian green beans - some say they're thinner, some say flatter, I know here they wouldn't have them here so I used organic frozen and cut in desired length; it was delicious - though while checking into Italian green beans gave me some gardening ideas, that's good - I think?

My friend said he substituted swiss chard for spinach, lentils and soy beans for white & kidney beans.  If using swiss chard and if not baby - remove stems and chop leaves.  The recipe he emailed me stated that at the last 15 - 20 minutes they added White Tail Shiraz and liked it.  I didn't but I might have if I had.  Apparently this is a copy cat recipe for the Olive Garden.  I never cared to go, though been there once.  The soup is definitely once I'll make many time and it doesn't even need a pretty bowl.
Enjoy and Thank you John!


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