Vegetarian Minestrone Recipe
This is a dynamite soup and can be varied as the garden harvest changes with the seasons. It is very low in fat and filled with a full mix of vegetables and all their many vitamins and phytonutrients. The rosemary pesto is spectacular but must be made with fresh herbs. Of course, you can serve it with a basil pesto seasoning instead of serving it with the rosemary one.
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 medium yellow onions, sliced (3 cups)
1/4 pound of portobello mushrooms
3 large carrots, sliced (2 cups)
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper, or roasted frozen ones
2 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
4 large chard leaves or handful of spinach, washed and cut in thin strips
1/2 medium cabbage, sliced thinly (7 cups)
10 - 12 ripe Italian paste tomatoes, peeled seeded and chopped
1 - 15 1/4 ounce can kidney beans
10 cups vegetable stock
1 cup lima beans, fresh or frozen
2 handfuls snap beans or snow peas, cut in 1" pieces
4 ounces wide pasta noodles, broken into 3" pieces
2 large cloves garlic, minced
Handful fresh parsley leaves
Leaves from a 3 inch sprig of fresh rosemary,
8 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 dried chili pepper
In a heavy skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add onions and sauté over low heat, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes and until golden brown and caramelized.
In a large stock pot sauté mushrooms in the remaining olive oil. If the mushrooms get dry and start sticking to the pan, add a tablespoon of water to draw out the mushroom juices. Add the carrots, bell pepper, celery, chard, cabbage, tomatoes, kidney beans and the caramelized onions. Cook together for a few minutes, then add the stock. Cover and simmer on low for about 1 1/4 hours. Soup can be cooled and refrigerated at this point.
In the meantime, in a mortar put garlic, parsley, rosemary, parmesan cheese, and dried chili. Pound the ingredients to a crumbly paste and set aside. This can also be done in a blender if you use a half pint canning jar instead of the blender jar.
A half hour or so before serving, bring soup to a simmer and add lima beans and simmer for 5 minutes if baby limas, and 7 minutes for the large. Add the snap beans, and the pasta, and cook 5 to 10 minutes or until beans and pasta are tender. Serve in individual bowls and pass the rosemary pesto so diners can serve themselves.