Vegetarian Minestrone Soup

I've never been a huge fan of tomato-based soups, but minestrone is a different story. I love the variety of the ingredients and the simpleness of the soup. The really reason this soup hit the spot though is because I've been fighting off a cold for the past few days. Nothing cures the cold blues like some hot soup. Oh and did I mention the flavor's great?

Vegetarian Minestrone Soup
Adapted from A Bountiful Kitchen
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (yellow or sweet)
2 cups chopped carrots
1 clove garlic, minced=tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
14 oz. can chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cup "ditalini" pasta or other small pasta shape
2 cups chopped zucchini or fresh spinach (optional)*
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
15 oz. can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
½ Tbsp. dried basil
additional water, if needed

1. Using a large, heavy stock pot, saute onion and carrots in olive oil on medium heat about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for another minute.
2. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add fresh tomatoes, fresh zucchini or spinach, chicken broth and water. Bring to boil. Add pasta and cook for 7-9 minutes until al dente.
4. Stir in tomato paste, beans and basil.  Cook just until combined.
5. If needed, add a little more water to the soup.
6. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

*You can add a variety of vegetables to this soup. Adding one to two cups of whatever is in your fridge, such as zucchini, other squash, spinach works well.

Note: I didn't have tomato paste, but I did have a small can of tomato sauce that I used instead. I used 3 Tbsp. of it, but I'm planning on trying tomato paste next time.


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