Old Fashioned Minestrone

This is a perfect day to make soup. It’s cold, dark and rainy where I live, the kind of day when you want to stay inside, wear your most comfortable clothes, read a book or watch a movie and know there’s a comforting something simmering on the cooktop. 

I’m going to make Minestrone. The recipe is flexible. I always have fresh carrots, potatoes and celery, frozen peas and corn, canned tomatoes and beans, packages of macaroni and rice and some fresh herbs in the house, but if I don’t have the zucchini I’ll leave it out or substitute broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage. If you don’t have some of the veggies — peas or corn, for example — leave it out and use a different vegetable. The bay leaf isn’t critical. And although I don’t like dried basil, you can use it if that’s all you have (about 1/3 the amount of fresh).


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

3 carrots cut into 1/2-inch slices

3 stalks celery cut into 1/2-inch slices

2 Yukon Gold or all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size chunks

1 zucchini, cut into bite size pieces

1-1/2 cups frozen peas

1 cup frozen corn kernels

28 ounce can Italian style tomatoes, chopped

8 cups stock (vegetable or chicken) or water

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano)

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 can rinsed and drained canned white beans

1/2 cup white rice or elbow macaroni

freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, celery, zucchini, peas and corn and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stock, bay leaf, basil, oregano and some salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pan partially and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the beans and rice or macaroni and cook for another 20 minutes or until the rice or pasta is tender. Serve sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Makes 8 servings