My grandmother would make the best minestrone soup! This is what I call a “kitchen sink” soup. Everything is in there but… There is no right or wrong way to make this soup. There is a right and wrong way to eat it. Just ask my sister Annette.
When my sister was courting her soon to be husband Arthur, she had prepared a number of meals to impress him. Well, she really didn’t prepare anything. My mother and grandmother did all the preparation and my sister just served them. Arthur didn’t need to know that. On this occasion as soon as they sat down to enjoy a romantic meal alone together, in comes my brother Richard from a 3 day camping trip, unwashed and ready for a meal. My brother sets up his own bowl of soup and plops himself down at the table with my sister and Arthur and begins to eat his soup the only way he knew how. My brother Richard would slurp his soup like a wet vac. Birds would fly off of neighboring trees startled by the vibrations. It would drive my sister crazy. Really added to the tunes of Nat King Cole playing in the back ground with the candles flickering to the reverberation. “Mona Lisa!, Mona Lisa men have called you…..sfsfsfsfsfsfsfsffssffsssssssstt….ahhhh”!
My grandmother used to use a beef base to make this vegetable soup. If you want to keep it vegetarian then do so. I like the hearty beef base. Any lean cut of beef will do. Beef bones for stock is good because they have some meat on them that you can chop up and add back to the soup. Use fresh vegetables for the best flavor. If you have packages of frozen vegetables in the freezer, this is a good recipe to use them up.
If you make enough of this you can always freeze the left overs in small containers, it will still be better than the canned stuff you buy. I ask you, what can be better on a cold fall or winter evening than eating a bowl of nice hot homemade soup, with a tissue close by to blow your nose every now and again. Hot soup does that to you. It lets you know it’s working. A sip of soup, a bite of hot crunchy garlic bread, another sprinkle of Parmesan cheese just for good measure, and a Kleenex close by. Ahh! Home sweet home.
If you are not into soup bones, but I have to tell you, the bones add another whole demension of flavor, you can brown a pound of lean chopped meat in the pot instead.
Hearty Minestrone Soup
- 2 pounds of beef bones with meat for stock
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 – 9 ounce package of frozen cut green beans or fresh
- 1 small zucchini quartered and diced
- 3 cups escarole, washed well, drained and chopped
- 1 – 28 ounce can of peeled tomatoes chopped with juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 – 15.5 ounce can of chick peas (garbanzos), drained
- 1 – 15.5 ounce can of red kidney beans, drained
- 1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni or small pasta for soup
- 1 1/2 tablespoon salt or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Rinse the beef bones to get rid of any small bone fragments.
In a large heavy bottom pot heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sear beef bones, browning on all sides. Add the chopped onions and garlic and cook till onions are translucent, about 4 minutes.
Add 5 quarts of fresh cold water to pot. Turn the heat high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer partially covered for 45 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare your vegetables.
When the soup is done remove the beef and bones. Discard the bones and chop the meat well and return to the soup.
Add your celery, carrots, frozen green beans, zucchini, escarole, chopped tomatoes, basil, oregano, marjoram and bay leaf. Allow to simmer uncovered for 35 minutes.
Now add the chick peas, red kidney beans and elbow macaroni and simmer for an additional 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the salt and pepper. When you find the bay leaf, remove it.
Serve this soup with plenty of grated cheese and some garlic bread.