When I was younger I used to loathe minestrone soup. So when I saw this recipe in An Everlasting Meal I wasn't that interested. But something kept bringing me back to the recipe and I finally tried it. And now I love minestrone soup! This recipe is creamier than the minestrone from Olive Garden; it has tomatoes, but it's not overbearing. Using dried beans is essential because the liquid from the beans is creamy and gives the soup depth. Add some parmesan cheese, pesto, or olive oil on top with some crusty bread on the side and you've got yourself a satisfying meal.
My favorite thing about this soup is that it freezes so well. Just make sure you cook the orzo pasta right before you eat it, not before you freeze it.
Minestronefrom An Everlasting Meal
1 cup diced onion, carrot, celery, leek, fennel (I used more than 1 cup and it was still good)
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
a small pinch of chile flakes
the end of a piece of cured meat or hard salami, diced
1 cup any combination parsley, thyme, marjoram, basil leaves
2-3 cups roughly chopped any combination of greens, with any stems ad leaves, ribs and cores
1/2 cup whole tomatoes, well chopped or drained canned tomatoes
6 cups cooked beans
a Parmesan rind
8 cups any combination of bean broth, stock, and liquid from can of tomatoes
1 cup small pasta such as orecchiette, little tubes, or small penne
Pesto, olive tapenade, fresh ricotta, or parsley for garnish
Cook the onion, celery, leek, fennel and garlic in the olive oil until tender in a big pot. Add the chile flakes and any cured meat. Stir to combine. Add the herbs, greens, tomatoes, beans, and cheese rind, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot. Add liquid to cover. Simmer for 45-60 minutes, until everything has agreed to become minestrone. Just before you eat the soup, cook the pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water, only enough for the soup you're planning to eat that week, and add it to the weeks soup. If you freeze minestrone, cook new pasta whenever you eat the minestrone you've frozen.
Garnish with pesto or olive tapenade, or a big dollop of fresh ricotta, or simply parsley.