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Big Mo Minestrone with Garden Fresh Vegetables

Minestrone means "big soup" in Italian and there are as many variations as there are cooks.  I've used some of the classic minestrone vegetables, but my friend Elena says don't hesitate to add any vegetable your heart desires.  Serve this with hearty bread and kalamata tapenade to build momentum for that next day.  In the wintertime when some of these fresh vegetables are not in season use frozen vegetables and a large dollop of pesto in place of fresh basil.

From Feeding the Young Athlete (by Cynthia Lair; Readers to Eaters, 2012)

1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced

2 medium carrots, sliced
2 stalks
celery, diced
1 medium potato
, diced
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 cup green beans, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
1 15-ounce can kidney beans
, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or oregano
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Parmesan cheese

In a large soup pot over medium heat add olive oil, butter, garlic and onion.  Saute until onion is soft.  Add carrots, celery, potato and saute about 5 minutes more (we definitely hurried this in the video).  Add tomatoes,oregano, salt and chicken broth.  Bring heat up to simmer.  Cover and cook 20-30 minutes, until potatoes and carrots are tender.  Add corn, green beans and kidney beans and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.  Stir in fresh basil, black pepper to taste and serve with freshly grated Parmesan on top.

Preparation time: 45 minutes
Makes 6-8 servings


Traci Bixby
This looks amazing! Can't wait to try it. You guys have THE best recipes. Thanks so much!
September 1, 2010, 12:49 pm

Lizz Brooks
I love this cooking show :) Gonna take this recipe in a Mexican direction with the addition of chorizo and chipotle powder, YUM!
September 1, 2010, 1:18 pm

Wendy Wallace
Cynthia, What are your thoughts about cheese rind in a soup? I can't tell a difference but my taste buds are getting old and grey...
September 1, 2010, 3:46 pm

Cynthia Lair
Wendy, Haven't done it. Is it supposed to enhance flavor??? I'd rather taste basil in this soup I think.
September 1, 2010, 4:08 pm

Sherry Lipsky
It would be even more helpful to provide nutritional content to these recipes!
September 3, 2010, 9:44 am

Cynthia Lair
Another site that is using some of our recipes is computing nutritional information so I happen to have the data for this soup. Nutritional Information: Per Serving: 187 calories 6.60g protein 4.37g fat 1496 mg sodium 31.93g carbohydrate 7.61g fiber 5.69 sugar
September 3, 2010, 11:50 am

Kristen Fulton
Thank you so much for the recipes! Have you ever thought of working with Kitchen Monki? I just noticed that Laura Barlow from Healthy Eating just did a section. It would be so great to have these recipes on the queue!! Thanks again!
September 7, 2010, 2:17 pm

Kim Harmeling
I made this a couple days ago on the spur of the moment, when the weather suddenly turned very Fall-like. It was so easy to make and SO delicious. We served it with a nice crusty sourdough bread. My husband loved it. It was great for lunch the next couple days too.
September 10, 2010, 3:44 pm

Sarah Cline
Yum. I made this and threw in a rind of Parmasean. Delicious! I just came across this when I was googling how to cook beans in a slow cooker (I just scored one for $5 at a thrift store) What do you think Cynthia? Also, any slow cooker recipes or references?
September 15, 2010, 8:46 pm

Cynthia Lair
Hi Sarah, Beans, soups and stews work well in the slow cooker. Save any leafy greens or fresh herbs until just before eating. Also drinks like mulled cider,chai and ginger tea.
September 19, 2010, 10:03 am

I made this soup a few weeks ago and it was awesome! Cannot eat corn so I replaced with frozen peas, but think I will try zucchini when I make it again tmw!
October 22, 2010, 8:04 pm

Sara L
Hi Cynthia, This looks delicious! Do you use homemade or store bought stock? Which one? We made your Tikka Masala tonight and it was soooo good!
December 16, 2010, 7:24 pm

Cynthia Lair
Hi Sara, I use both! If I have had a reasonable week (meaning time to make stock) then I'll use that. Otherwise I use an organic chicken stock or Rapunzel herbed vegetable stock (which comes in small cubes that get combined with water).
December 30, 2010, 10:02 am

Taylor Hope
Hi Cynthia! I was referred to your book by my nutritionist and have been cooking your recipes since the beginning of the year. Your book and this site have changed so much for us, including my confidence as a cook! I made this soup tonight and it was, by far, the best homemade soup we have ever had. 3 generations ate together, even my 5 and 2 year olds! Thank you from the bottom of our empty soup bowls!
March 19, 2011, 8:34 pm

Elena Leonard
Back to that question about cheese rinds in soup.... Italians often toss the rind of parmesan cheese into a minestrone or other soup. It adds a hint of flavor, it softens the rind so someone can gnosh on it, and it harkens back to the days when no morsel of food was wasted.
September 20, 2011, 8:32 pm

Kiki Hart
My whole family loves this soup! It's so wonderful to pick up our CSA share, come home and use the tomatoes, leeks, garlic, celery, potatoes, dragon beans, kale, parsley, basil all grown by our favorite farmer! I plan to direct other members of our CSA to your site for pure veggie deliciousness! Much gratitude to Cynthia and the Cookus Crew!
September 14, 2012, 1:26 pm

Lori Cooper
I saw a question about cheese rind in soup. I do this with any Italian/tomato-esque soup and it really enhances the flavor, making the soup richer tasting. When I use up a hunk of parmesan or asiago, I just toss the rind, wrapped, in the freezer. Then I add it to the soup when it is going to simmer for awhile. YUM!
September 18, 2012, 2:10 pm

Sonya Medema
This has become out go-to minestrone recipe! Amazing flavors and packed with nutrients. So grateful for it! Thank you.
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