Autumn Minestrone Soup
 
 
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Ingredients
  • 1½ lbs. fresh cranberry/October/Borlotti beans, about 2 cups shelled beans (OR 2 14.5-oz cans pinto, kidney or white beans, drained and rinsed.)
  • 1 small head garlic, sliced in half, separating top and bottom. Rinse the bottom half with the root to remove any grit. Remove any loose outer leaves.
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery spears, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 zucchini, chopped into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 cups green beans (about ½ lb.), chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup red or other thin-skinned potatoes, chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water (preferably filtered)
  • *Parmesan rind, if you have one (optional.)
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped (OR 1 Tablespoon dried basil)
  • 4 sprigs thyme (OR 2 teaspoons dried thyme)
  • 4 large swiss chard leaves (about 1½ cups), spinach (not baby) or dinosaur kale, cores removed and chopped
  • ½ cup cooked pasta, ditalini or small shells. (optional) Save 1 cup of cooking liquid to add to soup, if desired.
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more, to taste **
  • 5-6 grinds black pepper
  • Grated parmesan cheese, for serving
Instructions
  1. Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat, add onions, carrots, celery, zucchini. Sauté over medium-low heat and cover until softened and vegetables exude their juices, about 7-10 minutes. Check under lid occasionally to make sure they are gently simmering, not vigorously boiling.
  2. Remove lid and add broth, tomatoes, green beans, thyme sprigs, Borlotti beans, garlic halves, bay leaf and/or dried seasonings, if using. Add additional water to completely cover the vegetables.
  3. Bring to a boil then simmer over medium heat (soup should bubble slowly and gently) until vegetables are cooked to desired consistency and beans are soft. (less time and vegetables will be well formed and soup broth thinner, cook longer and vegetables dissolve but broth will be slightly thicker.)
  4. About 10 minutes prior to serving, stir in canned beans (if using), and swiss chard leaves, simmer until greens are softened and beans are warmed through.
  5. Remove garlic halves, thyme stems and bay leaf, discard.
  6. Add chopped basil and stir through the soup, saving a small handful of chopped leaves to top soup bowls before serving.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you would like more broth, add some of the reserved pasta water.
  8. To serve, ladle into a bowl then add cooked pasta, if using, an extra drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of basil leaves and grated parmesan cheese.
Notes
It is important to note that this soup is meant to be adapted to your weekly farmers market haul. Feel free to substitute vegetables according to what is available each week. Turnips, potatoes, canned tomatoes are all great substitutions. The more you make this soup, the more familiar you will become with flavors you like best.

*Parmesan rind is the end of a piece of Parmesan cheese when bought whole. It is worthwhile to buy a wedge of Parmesan just for this soup. Grate the cheese to serve on the side and put the rind into the broth to simmer.

**Beans cook best with less salt. Season the soup generously with salt after the beans are cooked through.
Recipe by FamilyandForks at http://www.familyandforks.com/2017/10/13/autumn-minestrone-soup/