I fell in love with minestrone soup in college.
Up until then, I liked it but had really only had it in a restaurant a few times but more often than not it was from a can. So basically, I’d only had the overly salted and/or slightly metallic versions of this glorious, vegetable-filled, Italian soup until I discovered a cookbook that changed my cooking life forever. And made me fall head-over-heels for real minestrone soup made in my own kitchen. Sigh.
I dabbled with vegetarianism off and on during my college years. Somewhat for health (and weight control) reasons but mostly because I was too broke most of the time to afford meat that didn’t come in a can or as pale, greasy hot dogs or wafer-thin, pressed deli meat. No thanks.
But I pretty much failed at being a vegetarian. Until this happened.
I have to admit that even as a dietetics major I wasn’t the best vegetarian. Sure, I ate plenty of veggies as salads with fat-free dressing but it wasn’t until my best friend introduced me to the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen that I really got it.
My culinary world was turned upside down by this now classic vegetarian cookbook. There were so many vegetables, prepared in so many delicious and exotic ways. Things I’d never tasted during my midwestern upbringing. I don’t recall which recipe I tried first but I do remember working my way through the book, dog-earing my favorites and on several occasions splattering the pages with a sauce or my beloved minestrone soup as I precariously balanced the book on a postage stamp of countertop in my tiny apartment kitchen.
So the vegetarian thing didn’t really stick. It wasn’t for me. I just felt (and still feel) better eating some quality meat, poultry and fish on a regular basis. But I still love my vegetables and to this day, this cookbook remains one of my go-to books for simple, flavorful recipes.
Just 10 ingredients if you don’t count the olive oil, salt or pepper that you already have on hand.
This recipe is an adaptation of the original Minestrone Soup recipe found in the Moosewood Cookbook (now celebrating it’s 40th anniversary). And although it was already simple and delicious, I’ve increased the tomatoes and replaced the bell pepper with mushrooms because the mushrooms lend a meatier texture to the soup and in the winter, organic bell peppers can be really pricey.
Enough for dinner plus leftovers for lunch (or breakfast, in my case. I love soup for breakfast.)
Top your bowl of minestrone soup with big shavings of rich and salty parmesan cheese if you so desire. I do. It’s so delicious.
Make this soup heartier and more traditional by adding some of your favorite gluten-free pasta.
Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente, drain and stir into hot soup.
Because I have yet to find a gluten-free pasta that doesn’t get mushy the next day, if you’re not going to eat the entire batch or feed a hungry family, I suggest you add the cooked pasta to each individual bowl when it’s time to serve. Totally your call, but I think this soup is delicious as is and it’s also really great with these Garlic Cheddar Biscuits for dipping.
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- ½ large onion, diced
- 7 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 large celery stalk, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- ½ tsp. sea salt + more to taste
- ¼ tsp. black pepper + more to taste
- 1 small zucchini, diced
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (such as Muir Glen)
- 3 cups water
- 1 14-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (such as Eden Organic)
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese^
- ½ - 1 cup gluten-free pasta, cooked al dente (optional)
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds.
- Add celery, carrot, mushrooms, oregano, basil and salt and pepper.
- Reduce heat to low. Cover with a lid and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add zucchini, crushed tomatoes, water and beans. Increase heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer an additional 15 minutes or until carrots and celery are tender.
- Remove from heat, stir in chopped parsley. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. If using pasta, stir into soup and allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve with grated parmesan, if desired.
Which cookbook was the most influential in your health or culinary life? Start the conversation in the comments below – we want to know!
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