Hearty minestrone soup [Vegetarian with meat option]
I make a lot of soup during the winter. Perhaps my obsession with soup has to do with living in a frigid corner of the earth. With temperatures regularly plunging below -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 Celsius) over the past weeks, there’s nothing I’d rather eat than a big bowl of this hot, hearty minestrone after spending time outside. My kids love it, too, and never complain about the high ratio of vegetables and beans.
I sometimes add sausage meat for extra flavor and protein, but you can easily leave it out for a vegetarian soup. The recipe is flexible and forgiving, so feel free to experiment with different vegetables, beans, and pasta types. I like to serve it with cornbread, cheese biscuits, or fresh bread on the side.
1 onion, chopped
1 lb sausage meat (optional)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
Assortment of herbs: 1 tbsp dried oregano or 1 tbsp dried basil or several sprigs fresh thyme or handful of chopped fresh oregano
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
Vegetable stock, preferably homemade, or water
1 can kidney or white beans, rinsed and drained
¼ green cabbage, sliced in thin narrow strips
1 small jar marinated artichokes, chopped coarsely
¼ cup green or black olives, sliced
1 cup fresh tortellini
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a heavy pot. If using sausage, sauté until browned. Add vegetables and cook for 10 minutes until softened and lightly browned.
2. Add herbs, tomatoes, and enough stock to cover all vegetables by 2 inches. (It will be more than you think you need, but you’ll be adding a lot more ingredients.) Simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cook tortellini separately until al dente. Drain and set aside.
4. Add beans, cabbage, artichokes, and olives to soup. Simmer 10 minutes until cabbage is soft.
5. Add tortellini to soup and adjust seasonings. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top.