The end of the summer is here! Perhaps you are the kind of person that starts feeling nostalgic about seeing the warm weather going away or perhaps you are the other kind who is happy to finally enjoy the cooler temperatures. Which camp am I in? Both… ! I hate seeing summer leaving us but on the other hand, I’m happy to see the fall season coming with its beautiful colors and the crisp air.
During the hot summer months, I feel lazy when it’s time to cook unless I do it very early in the morning or if we BBQ that day. With the cooler temperatures on our door step, I suddenly have immense energy to cook because I see all the fresh fall product at my grocery store and my local farmers market shelves… love it!
One recipe I make every year is my Minestrone Soup. It’s not because it’s my recipe (yes it is… don’t kid yourself Frankie) but boy when my friends and family have it, they go “nuts” about it… ! It is packed with super yummy ingredients and you can enjoy it all year round because it’s freezable. There’s a little prep involved but isn’t it worth it to feed your family amazing healthy food for months to come?
- 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cups white onions, chopped (substitute red onion)
- 2 cups celery, chopped
- 2 cups red peppers, seeded, ribs removed and chopped
- 4 cups carrots, peeled and sliced
- 4 large cloves garlic, pressed
- 8 cups broth, preferably half beef and half vegetable *SEE FOOTNOTE #1
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste *SEE FOOTNOTE #2
- 1/2 cup red wine (optional)
- 2 cans (12 oz. each) corn kernels, liquid reserved (substitute 3 ears corn, husks and silks removed)
- 1 can (19 oz.) red kidney beans, drained
- 2 cups green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves, washed
- 2 large zucchini, quartered and sliced
- 1 tbsp. fres oregano, chopped (substitute 1 tsp. dried oregano)
- 2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped (substitute 2 tsp. dried basil)
- 1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped (substitute 1 tsp. dried thyme)
- 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped (substitute 1 tsp. dried rosemary)
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 can (19 oz.) Italian tomatoes, chopped and liquid reserved
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste (I always use mixed peppercorns)
- 1/2 to 1 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup ditalini, tubetti or any small pasta, cooked seperately and drained
- Grana Padano cheese or Asiago, grated, for garnish
- 1 tbsp. very good quality olive oil, for drizzling (optional)
FOOTNOTE #1: For a vegetarian/vegan version, use only vegetable broth and skip cheese as a garnish
FOOTNOTE #2: Save your leftover tomato paste by using this trick: http://clubfoody.com/tips-tricks/tomato-paste-leftovers/
FOOTNOTE #3: It freezes very well so you and your family can enjoy it all year round. When thawed, transfer into a pot and simply reheat. You might have to add some broth when reheating as the pasta absorbs a lot of liquid.