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All-time Favs: A Whole ‘Lotta Minestrone Soup

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I literally live off this soup sometimes. Not joking. The saving grace is that this soup is healthy, affordable, and not all that hard to make. Believe me, I’ve got it down to a science at this point. Or maybe an art. Either way, it’s delicious. And vegetarian, actually.

This is my all-time favorite soup.

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Okay, the picture below looks like a whopping amount of ingredients. Bear with me for a minute. Most of the ingredients are canned; although they don’t have to be, that’s just what I use. You can see I used a mix of name-brand and store-brand ingredients. Honestly, with a tight budget and a family of four I buy whatever is most affordable except for items we just really prefer the taste of the name-brand. Many of the ingredients are also stock items you probably already have in the kitchen. I would guess I make about 10 big bowls-worth of this soup at one time, and it costs about $10 total. So, about $1 per bowl…. and I make really large portions per bowl.

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Gather your ingredients: (full recipe at the bottom of post)

  • 3 tbls extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 tbl diced garlic (I like the jars from Delallo)
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 whole carrots
  • 3 medium-sized zucchinis
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 quart V8 juice (seriously, V8 tastes so much better than the generic or just tomato juice)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine (optional, but I think it makes it extra delicious)
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can green beans
  • 1 can diced tomato (I like the “fire roasted” ones)
  • 1 tbl fresh herbs (I use a squeeze tube from the produce section of my local Kroger, which is “italian herbs” but you could use fresh oregano, basil, etc.)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup seashell pasta (I like the mini-shells from Barilla. They are tasty and adorable at the same time).
  • Toppings: I love saltine crackers and parmesan cheese, but goldfish crackers, a spritz of olive oil, or whatever you like would be great!)

Obviously, many of the above ingredients are optional or could be substituted. It’s soup, ya’ll – that’s how it works. When I first made minestrone  I used Jamie’s Minestrone recipe from Allrecipes. Over time, I altered it to suite my taste and pantry-stocking-abilities and at this point it is at least 60% different. That is true of a lot of things in life, isn’t it? Oh wait, I’m getting all philosophical – let’s get back to to the soup. Don’t mind me.

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Let’s get started! I have no attention-span whatsoever.  I’m not joking. While writing this, it is entirely likely I forgot what I was doing and went to make a sandwich – twice. So, before I start the heat on the stove I go ahead and prep all my vegetables, get a spoonful of diced garlic out, and so on. Then, I don’t have to panic mid-cooking because a Criminal Minds marathon started and I wandered off.

Chop your zucchini and carrots into like-sized cubes. That is super important, so it will all cook evenly. Dice your onion. Slice up that spinach a bit too, while you’re at it. I also remove the stems if it is the kind that has them. If you aren’t using already-diced garlic, go ahead and dice that bad boy.

Minestrone Compiled Pictures.jpg

In the meantime, heat your olive oil in the bottom of a stock-pot on medium-heat. It needs to be large – this is a ‘lotta soup. I warned you.

When your oil is hot enough, add your garlic and saute until it is very lightly toasted and aromatic, about 1 minute.

Turn the heat up just a touch, and then add your diced onion and saute until it is to your liking. Some people like it almost raw. I call those people crazy. I cook mine until it is nice and caramelized and light brown, about 4 minutes.

Add your carrots and saute for 4-5 minutes until just starting to cook through.

Minestrone Compiled Pictures 2.jpg

Add your quart of V8, vegetable stock, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (do not drain first), and red wine. Bring to a boil, stirring very frequently.

Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and add black beans, kidney beans, green beans, spinach, zucchini, and all spices and seasonings. You will notice that the spinach and zucchini float at the top at first. No worries, they will settle down after a couple minutes. It’s just weird physics…. I think.

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If you have never used vegetable buillon cubes and want to, here is how I do it. I buy tiny little cardboard boxes of them in the healthy-food section of the grocery store. Then, I heat up a pyrex full of 2 cups of water in the microwave for 2 minutes. I chop a little cube up into smaller squares and add it to the very hot water, and stir it until it is pretty much dissolved into it. Since this recipe calls for 4 cups, I do this twice.

Let your soup simmer on medium-low for at least 30-40 minutes. Longer is better, honestly. This is a great lazy Sunday meal.

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Meanwhile, boil some water and cook your seashell pasta until al dente. Do not overcook it! Please, I beg you. Nobody likes a mushy seashell.

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If you’re eating it right then and there, go ahead and add a couple spoonfuls of seashell pasta to each bowl. Ladle some soup over the top of each and stir.

I think this is amazing and delicious and a good amount of your daily servings of vegetables. Basically, a triple-threat. I think it is even better after time. With soup, the flavors really meld over time… so leftovers should be stored in the fridge for the next day or…

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FREEZE-AHEAD TIP:  Freeze it in mass quantities  I make this for just myself usually, and eat one bowl right after it cooks. Then, I divide the rest into quart-size freezer bags, adding to each bag about what I would eat for a dinner. Which is an embarrassingly large bowls-worth. This makes 10 total dinners for me, so I freeze 9.

I add all of the pasta to the pot and stir it in well. Then, I leave the bags to cool completely on the counter for about an hour. I then stack them lying flat in the freezer and enjoy 9 delicious dinners later on!

REHEAT FROM FROZEN TIP: Stick a bag in the microwave for 2.5 minutes. Remove the bag and empty it into a bowl. Cover with cling wrap. Microwave again for 2.5 minutes. Lift one edge of the cling wrap and stir. Microwave again for 2.5 minutes or until warm – will depend on your microwave. Add your fav toppings and enjoy! Warning, the bowl will be hot.

Painting Sunny Minestrone Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbls extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbl diced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 whole carrots
  • 3 medium-sized zucchinis
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 quart V8 juice
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can green beans
  • 1 can diced tomato
  • 1 tbl fresh herbs
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup seashell pasta

Chop your zucchini and carrots into like-sized cubes. Dice your onion. Slice up that spinach and remove stems. Dice garlic if it is not pre-diced.

In the meantime, heat your olive oil in the bottom of a stock-pot on medium-heat. When your oil is hot enough, add your garlic and saute until it is very lightly toasted and aromatic, about 1 minute. Turn the heat up just a touch, add your diced onion and saute  about 4 minutes. Add your carrots and saute for 4-5 minutes until just starting to cook through.

Add your quart of V8, vegetable stock, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (do not drain first), and red wine. Bring to a boil, stirring very frequently. Reduce the heat to low and add black beans, kidney beans, green beans, spinach, zucchini, and all spices and seasonings.

Let your soup simmer on medium-low for at least 30-40 minutes. Meanwhile, boil some water and cook your seashell pasta until al dente. Add a couple spoonfuls of seashell pasta to each bowl. Ladle some soup over the top of each. Add toppings as desired (crackers, Parmesan, etc.)

Can be frozen ahead in quart-sized freezer bags and re-heated in the microwave; follow instructions included with recipe on Painting Sunny.

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.

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Author: Dani @ Painting Sunny

Hi there! I'm Dani, and it's lovely to meet you. My little family just moved to the quaint little college-town of Ithaca, NY and are loving it. Come hang out with me and talk about food, books, art, and other odd little things.

2 thoughts on “All-time Favs: A Whole ‘Lotta Minestrone Soup

  1. Pingback: Make The Most Of It: 5 Recipes Using Fresh Spinach | painting sunny

  2. Pingback: Trials and Tribulations of Smoothie Experimenting | painting sunny

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