not your {traditional} minestrone soup!

who know what makes kids (almost adult ones, aka teenagers) tick? my daughter often leaves her swim practice so hungry (and relatively grouchy-did i just say that?) she can’t quite decide what she wants to eat. sometimes when i’m in the mood to please her i give her a few options for dinner as we drive home. today i casually throw out a few ideas…pasta? chicken noodle soup? grilled cheese sandwich? quesadilla? blank face, zero excitement…. hmmnnn…okaaaaay, minestrone? i have no idea where that comes from (do i even have the ingredients)? cha-ching! “that sounds good”, she says. great! minestrone it is, then. i start thinking ingredients…chicken broth…check, stewed tomatoes…check, white beans, more than likely check. we get home, and i start rummaging through my vegetable drawer. no zucchinis, substitute fennel, no carrots, substitute red bell pepper. chop chop chopping away. reach for the elbow macaroni-nowhere in sight…substitute orecchiette. we’re making soup…an {almost} minestrone. the chopped vegetables hit the hot olive oil in the dutch oven and the familiar scent of  homey comforting soup begins to fill the house with the promise of a good dinner to come.
for 4 generous servings of minette’s minestrone:

  • 1 onion, finely cubed
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 2 small fennel bulbs, finely cubed (or 2 zucchinis)
  • 6-7 celery stalks, cubed (same size as above)
  • 1 small red bell pepper (or 2-3 small carrots) finely cubed
  • 1 medium potato, cubed
  • a few sprigs of rosemary (very finely minced)-or fresh oregano
  • small bunch of flat leaf parsley (very finely minced)
  • about 1 cup good quality stewed tomatoes with juices
  • 4 cups or so good quality chicken broth, 1 cup or so of water
  • 2-3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cooked white beans
  • 1/4-1/2  cup dry elbow macaroni or orecchiette pasta
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese
1. in a heavy deep pot or dutch oven heat the olive oil, then add the onions & garlic and sautee on high while stirring for a minute or two before adding all the chopped vegetables and the rosemary, sea salt, and pepper. sautee for another 4-6 minutes until tender.
2. add the stewed tomatoes (break them up with a wooden spoon), then the broth, and bring to a boil. reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot, and allow the soup to cook (simmer) for about 30 minutes.

3. add 1/2 of the chopped parsley and cooked beans. simmer for 10-15 minutes. add the noodles and some water, stir well, and allow the noodles to cook through. 
4. taste for salt and pepper, add a touch of olive oil, and serve piping hot with the rest of the parsley and parmesan cheese grated on top.

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