Minestrone Soup needs little discussion.
The biggest problem with it is that the idea sounds dull. Trust me, whatever bland or canned vegetable soups of your past will be wiped away by the taste of a fresh hot vegetable soup.
Perfect for improvisation, you can use many different mixtures and amounts of seasonal vegetables. Let this just be a guide. You can use any of the ones I mentioned, or any you like or have on hand. The important thing is to not cook it too long after the beans and peas and pasta are in. If you want to make it ahead, add these before serving, or cook until they are done, cool, and reheat before serving.
If you are not vegetarian or kosher use butter, bacon, beef or chicken stock. Personally I like to make it vegetarian, with vegetable stock and olive oil, and then have the option of topping it with some hot pepper, and a generous sprinking of parmesan. (Henry loves smoked cheese on top).
A good loaf of bread, and you are set—make a ton, it gets better with age.
After dinner, put any leftovers in individual containers and take the next day for lunch, or freeze.
MINESTRONE (FOR 4-5 people)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 leek, cleaned and sliced
1 lb greens: any or a mixture (swiss chard, kale, cabbage, or baby spinach stems trimmed, chopped)
1 russet potato, peeled, diced
4 plum tomatoes chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
2 quarts vegetable stock (or chicken stock or half chicken and half beef)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
(1 ounce parmesan cheese, rind) optional
handful small pasta (orzo, Israeli couscous etc)
½ cup cleaned green beans, in 1 inch pieces
1 cup fresh peas
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic,chopped
Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat.
Add the onion, carrots, celery, leeks, and garlic.
Saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add the greens and potato; saute for 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and rosemary sprig, sauté briefly and add stock, tomato paste, and seasonings.
Simmer until the potato pieces are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
Stir in the beans and parsley.
Simmer until the beans are heated through and the soup is thick, about 2 minutes. 10 minutes before serving add pasta.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Discard Parmesan rind if used and rosemary sprig (the leaves will have fallen off of the stem.) Correct seasoning.
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.