Summer just came and went, didn’t it? One minute I was breathing in the ocean air at Rye with my family and escaping the heat at a beer garden with my girlfriends in Brooklyn, and the next, I’m using the entire length of my arm to wipe the fallen leaves off my car in the morning and choosing this year’s pumpkin carving design.
My first foliage season away from Boston has been, in a word, glorious. My ride to work takes me by a pasture with grazing cows, now framed with color, and the postcard-perfect church next door to Yankee HQ has a beauty of a tree next to it. I love the fall — the rich colors, spicy smells, and the return to knee socks and soft sweaters. The holidays are coming up. The soup kettle is ready. Let’s do this!
I’ve already been making lots of soups and stews now that the evenings have turned cold (if not downright freezing) and this easy homemade minestrone soup is always an early favorite.
Convenience comes in the form of canned beans, seasoned tomatoes, and veggie broth, while garlic, onion, pepper, and baby spinach still give you plenty of fresh ingredients to work with. Italian herbs (fresh or dried) lend robust flavor, and a generous handful of Parmesan brings it all home.
It’s everything you want in a soup — hearty, filling, and packed with flavor. Of course, I also insist on a hunk of bread or a toasted English muffin or bagel on the side. Who wouldn’t?
Feel free to halve the recipe, but I like making a big batch so I can freeze several servings for later.
Happy fall and happy soup weather!
Easy Homemade Minestrone Soup
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
2 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet yellow pepper, diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 28-oz. cans diced tomatoes with Italian herbs
1 14- to 15-oz. can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
1 14- to 15-oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
2 tsps. Italian seasoning
2 cups dry pasta (rigatoni, penne, or shells)
3-4 cups baby spinach
Shaved Parmesan for garnish
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent.
- Add the tomatoes, beans, broth, water, seasoning, and pasta. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, then cook, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, just until pasta is barely tender. Add more water if necessary.
- Stir in spinach, then ladle into bowls and top with fresh grated Parmesan.
Yield: 8 servings.