Minestrone is a really flexible soup. You can probably find dozens of recipes for it, but there’s little that requires slavish following. Generally, there are beans and some kind of small pasta. Sometimes meat; sometimes not. You’ll often find zucchini, along with onions, carrots and celery. It’s often made with whatever happens to be in the vegetable bin. Flexibility and creativity are good watchwords here.
This is my current version, but it was based on what I had on hand.
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 stalk of celery (with the leaves), sliced
1 zucchini, sliced in half and then in quarters
1 can of white kidney beans (or small white beans), drained and rinsed
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 quart of chicken broth
1/2 cup uncooked ditalini (or any small pasta)
1/2 pound of kielbasa, diced
salt, pepper, dried thyme, red pepper flakes
1. Saute the onion, carrots and celery in a little olive oil in a soup pot.
2. Add the zucchini once the onions, carrots and celery start to soften. Season with salt, pepper, a little dry thyme and a shake of red pepper flakes.
3. Add the beans, tomatoes, and broth. Simmer, partially covered, for about a half hour.
4. Cook the pasta separately while the soup is simmering. It will absorb too much of the broth if you cook it in the soup. Drain and set aside.
5. Add the kielbasa and continue simmering for another 5 minutes or so, until the kielbasa is heated through.
6. Add the cooked ditalini. Stir well. Continue to simmer until everything is heated. Check for seasoning. This soup only gets better with reheating, so it’s fine to make it early in the day and reheat it later.
This is a thick, chunky soup. If you want it a bit thinner, you can always add more broth. Serve with grated Parmesan on the side.