Super Green Minestrone.
Also known by its less inviting name, Clean Out The Fridge Drawers Minestrone.
There is so much to like about this soup — it’s healthy, it’s green, it’s quick and easy to make, it’s great leftover, it’s a great way to use up any veggies you have on hand…
Like traditional red, tomato based minestrone, this soup has a nice combination of veggies, beans, pasta and broth.
I used chicken broth for a bit heartier flavor, but for vegetarian soup you can easily substitute vegetable broth.
Grab your greens, here’s what you need:
Spinach (or Kale or Swish Chard), Potatoes, Celery, Garlic, Zucchini, Onions and/or Leeks, Bell Pepper, Peas, Macaroni (or small pasta), White Beans, Olive Oil, Chicken Broth, Parmesan Cheese Rinds, Thyme, Oregano, Tarragon, Red Pepper Flakes, Salt & Pepper.
That’s a whole counter full of stuff and actually more than you really need. As you can see, I have both spinach and swiss chard pictured here but I saved the gorgeous red chard for another recipe (coming soon). You could also use kale. You probably don’t need both onions and leeks but I had them both so in they went. I have elbow macaroni but any small variety of pasta will work. I also have a combination of homemade and store bought chicken stock. Pick whatever is easiest.
And don’t think you have to stop there. Green beans, edamame, yellow squash, broccoli, or cauliflower would all be great additions to this soup.
To me, any good soup starts with a base of the basics – 1 large onion, 1 yellow bell pepper, 2 ribs of celery celery, and in this case, also 2 leeks. In Southern cooking, that’s called the Holy Trinity (plus leeks).
Give them a nice chop into small pieces. If you’re new to cooking with leeks, you just use the light green and white parts. Cut off the tough dark green tops and the root at the end. Cut the leek in half and run it under cold water to remove any dirt, grit, and sand before chopping.
Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to a large pot over medium high heat and sauté the chopped vegetables.
Some people skip this step and just toss everything into the pot but I really think soup tastes better (especially vegetable soup) and has heartier flavor if you sauté the base vegetables first. Give them about 5 minutes to soften but not brown.
While the first round of veggies is cooking, cut up several small potatoes (you can leave the skin on) – about 2 cups. Finely chop 4 cloves of garlic.
Cut 2 slender zucchini into quarters and chop them into bite sized pieces.
Add the zucchini, potatoes, and garlic to the pot.
Dump in 2 (15.5 oz) cans of white beans that have been drained and rinsed. I have one can of cannellini beans and one can of great northern beans. Apparently this is also clean out the pantry soup.
Add 8 cups of chicken stock and 3/4 cup of small sized macaroni. Season with 1/2 teaspoon each of dried thyme, oregano, and tarragon, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and salt & pepper.
The secret ingredient to minestrone is to add the rind from a hard piece of cheese like parmesan or romano. If you buy a wedge of cheese and grate it yourself, you will often have the end leftover where it is too hard to grate. NEVER throw this away! I pop mine in a baggie in the freezer and then add a rind or two to soup or pasta sauce for extra flavor.
Just be sure to remove any paper or plastic labels that might still be stuck to the end of your cheese rind.
Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Grab your dark greens and give them a rough chop. I’m using 1 (9 oz) bag of spinach. Add the greens to the pot and stir them in so that they wilt.
Add 1 cup of frozen peas and stir to combine. Adding the peas and spinach at the very end makes this soup super green, fresh, and vibrant.
Fish out the spent rind of cheese. Sometimes it will dissolve completely and sometimes you will find a soggy old rind. It has given off it’s cheesy goodness so no need to keep it in the pot.
Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings of red pepper, salt & pepper to taste.
Serve a big bowl of healthy green goodness with a nice big chunk of crusty bread.
Then go out a leap tall buildings with a single bound.
Here’s the recipe: