Thursday, December 31, 2015

Italian minestrone soup {packed with vegetables}

On these long cold winter days I cant help but crave a big pot of hot soup and fresh loaf of bread from the oven.
After surviving the last few months of morning sickness and refusing all food but cereal, I am now (at 19 weeks) just coming back around to the idea of cooking meals for myself and family. I was really craving a bowl of minestrone soup from Olive Garden, but since it's a bit of a drive I decided to stay cozy at home and make my own.
This soup is really easy to make, it can be done quickly in a pot on the stovetop or over several hours slowly in the crockpot.
I really enjoyed making it because it took very little effort to toss everything into the pot and go. That gave me an extra minute to make delicious batch of my favorite french bread in a flash.
 Italian Minestrone Soup  
Recipe source: Emmy in her Element    
Inspired by food network
4 cups beef stock
2 cups water
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
2 cans 14.5 oz petite diced tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups spinach torn
1 cup zucchini in bite sized pieces
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced sweet onion
1 1/3 cups mini shell pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded parmesan or Romano cheese to garnish.
For crockpot:
Add beef stock, water, tomatoes, herbs, sugar, garlic, carrots, onion and celery to a crockpot on high heat for about 3 hours or low heat for 5-6 hours. Add beans, spinach, pasta shells and zucchini in last 30-40 minutes to soften. Remove bay leaves before serving. Serve warm and garnish with cheese.
For Stovetop:
Sauté carrots, onion and celery in butter or olive oil until onion is tender. Add stock, water, tomatoes, herbs, sugar, garlic and salt and pepper. About 20 minutes before serving, add beans, spinach, pasta shells and zucchini on medium heat just until zucchini is cooked through and spinach is wilted. Then let set on low heat until served. Remove bay leaves before serving. Garnish with cheese.

Add meat:  I think this soup would be amazing with Italian sausage. Just pan cook sausage until cooked through and add to pot of soup.
Vegetarian: If you would like this soup to be completely vegetarian, exchange vegetable stock straight across for the beef stock.
Gluten Free: Simply exchange pasta shells for gluten free pasta.

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