Simple and hearty Italian minestrone soup, brimming with vegetables, beans and a little pasta. The draw here is in the thick, flavorful tomato broth with piney rosemary, lots of fresh herbs, and Parmesan rind (a secret ingredient that Italian grandmothers have been using for years to flavor their soups)!
2cupsalready cooked small pasta such as ditalini or elbow pasta
In a large Dutch oven, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions, carrots and celery. Raise heat to medium-high, if you need to, and cook, tossing regularly, until the veggies soften a bit (about 5 minutes or so). Add the garlic and cook another minute, tossing regularly.
Add the zucchini or yellow squash and green beans. Season with paprika, rosemary, and a generous pinch of kosher salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
Now add the crushed tomatoes, broth, fresh thyme, bay leaf and Parmesan rind (if using.) Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and partially cover the pot. Let simmer for about 20 minutes or so.
Uncover the pot and add the kidney beans. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Finally, Stir in the parsley and fresh basil. And, if serving immediately, stir in the cooked pasta and simmer ever so briefly till the pasta is warmed through; do not overcook. (See Cook's Tip #2)
Remove the cheese rind and bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Serve the minestrone hot in dinner bowls with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan (optional.)
Note: Pasta is already cooked before adding to the soup, simply follow package instructions. You will start with 1 cup of dry pasta, which will yield 2 cups cooked pasta.
Cook's Tip #1 (Make it Your Own): Minestrone is meant to be adapted, so feel free to make this recipe your own by using what vegetables and beans you have on hand. Adding a handful of spinach or diced potatoes is common. You can use white beans instead of kidney beans, or use a combination of both. If you're looking for a low-carb option, feel free to omit the pasta. And if you need something meaty, add cooked ground turkey or even left-over rotisserie chicken. You can add that early on, once you've cooked the onions, carrots, and celery.
Cook's Tip #2 (Make-Ahead): If you are not serving this minestrone soup immediately, do not add the cooked pasta to the pot until you are ready to serve. This will give you best results and will prevent the pasta from soaking up too much of the broth and getting too mushy.
Cook's Tip #3 for Meal Prep: Related to the note above, if you plan to make minestrone to use for lunch over server days, definitely keep the cooked pasta out. You can just add a small portion of the pasta directly to your bowl, and then add an appropriate portion of hot minestrone on top.