This may be the first time I’ve ever followed an actual recipe for minestrone. I know the basic ingredients and have just combined things until I was satisfied with the results.
Living up to my resolution to try a recipe from one of my untested cookbooks, I came upon “Minestrone with Pesto” in The Low Cholesterol Olive Oil Cookbook. Dating back to 1990, this book was published during the years when low fat and low cholesterol were the watchwords on everyone’s mind. Thinking has changed on many aspects of fat consumption, but olive oil remains high on the list of good, healthy fats.
I chose this recipe because of its emphasis on vegetables, and also because it has a water base. I have a tendency to use chicken broth, and am interested in finding recipes that rely on water. To be fair, I added a few things to heighten the flavor, but the basic recipe remains intact.
1/4 cup mild flavored olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped canned tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped cabbage
1 cup chopped zucchini
1/2 cup diced potato
1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
4 cups water
pesto for serving (or simply add 2 TBS to soup)
grated Parmesan for serving
salt (2 tsp.) freshly ground pepper (1/2 tsp.)
garlic powder (1 tsp.) red pepper flakes (1/8-1/4 tsp.)
optional addition: 1 cup shredded cooked chicken
1. Heat olive oil in a soup pot. Saute onion until tender.
2. Add tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, zucchini, potatoes, and mushrooms. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Saute briefly to combine flavors.
3. Add water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, but keep at a gentle boil. Cook, covered, for about 20 minutes until vegetables are tender.
4. Add chicken, if using. Heat through. You could stir in the pesto at this point, or add it on each individual serving.
The original recipe recommend adding salt “if desired.” My opinion is that salt is critical. The garlic powder and red pepper flakes were my addition as well. Some additional tomato paste might be good next time.
Not including the pasta and beans found in many minestrones cuts down on the calories to be sure. Beans might have added nutritional value. I added the chicken for protein (and because I had it on hand.)