There is something to be said about spending a winter Sunday in the kitchen cooking up a bunch of different recipes that will carry my family through the week. Let’s face it, there are those weeks when we don’t feel like cooking, so having a bunch of frozen recipes at the ready in my freezer makes it so easy for me to grab something mid-week knowing I have a home-cooked meal at the ready. Minestrone soup is one of my homemade favourites – it’s so full of nutritious veggies, and it’s really one of the easiest recipes in the world because the veggies really do all the work in making the flavour!
First thing to keep in mind is when deciding on what veggies to use in this recipe is that I like to use a few classic standbys, think: tomatoes, celery and onions (they’re a classic ingredient in a stock-based soup and work brilliantly as the base for many flavours). To that I’ll use whatever else is in season this time of year, like Swiss chard, broccoli, rapini, cabbage, carrots, cabbages and arugula. Use whatever are your favourites, but I tend to avoid anything overly starchy (like potatoes) in this particular dish.
Minestrone Soup Ingredients:
- 3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Oil
- 6 cups of water, or alternatively 6 cups of low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
- Vegetables of your choosing:
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 28-ounce can, no-salt-added diced tomatoes
- 1 head of broccoli
- 2 cups chopped rapini, cabbage or arugula (whichever may be your favourite)
- 1 teaspoon of either fresh oregano, thyme, or parsley (given the time of year, dried works just as well here).
- Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
- Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
- In a big soup pot, fry the chopped onion, carrot, celery and garlic together in 2-3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil until soft.
- Add in the crushed tomatoes with their juices
- Cut all the veggies into large, bite-sized pieces, add to the pot in batches: your goal isn’t to steam the veggies, and that will happen if you over-crowd your pot, but to fry them to lend great texture.
- Once you have fried the entire batch of veggies, add to that add 6 cups of warm water (just from the tap is fine!). Add a handful of fresh herbs like chopped parsley, thyme or oregano. If you don’t have fresh, dried will work just as well.
- Salt and add freshly-ground pepper to taste and let simmer for two hours.
- To serve, top with a little bit of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese.
Tip: For an even greater depth of flavour, instead of water add 6 cups of low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock instead. Also, feel free to add in a protein (chicken or beef, cut into cubes fry in a small pan with Extra Virgin Olive Oil before adding to your soup mixture), or a starch: Jasmine rice or small egg noodles work well. This makes for a much heartier recipe!