What's cooking

A classic, easy, down-to-earth minestrone soup


This week I was thinking about the recent trend in which so many gourmet cookbooks and magazines I read are calling for hard-to-find ingredients.

As New Yorkers, we’re lucky to have a bevy of specialty food stores, farmers’ markets and groceries specializing in items from all over the world. However, in most states, all you may have in the foreseeable future is one large, standard supermarket with your standard vegetables.

This week, I decided the “What’s Cooking” featured recipe would be a classic minestrone soup. It includes ingredients anyone can find in almost any supermarket. Best of all, the instructions are so simple anyone, even a kid, can follow them.

You can opt for pasta or not, make it ahead of time and freeze, or portion it out into containers for more than a week’s worth of single-serving lunches. It’s adult-friendly, kid-friendly and good any time of year. Enjoy! From my kitchen to yours.

Minestrone Soup

Serves 8

4 tbsp. good-quality olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 cups chopped yellow onion

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced carrot

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp. parsley, plus additional for serving

2 cups green beans, cut in ½ inch lengths

½ cup sliced assorted or button mushrooms

1 zucchini, cut lengthwise, then crosswise into half moons

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1 15.5 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 qts. chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup ditalini (optional)

¼ grated quality aged parmigiano-reggiano

8 slices crusty baguette or Italian bread

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions, celery and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for five minutes until vegetables are glistening.

Add the garlic and parsley and cook another three minutes. Add the green beans, zucchini and mushrooms and cook another three minutes, stirring occasionally Season again with a little salt and pepper.

Next, add the tomatoes, chickpeas and stock. 

Bring to a low simmer and cook for an hour. If using the pasta, add and continue to cook until al dente. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle the baguette with olive oil and bake for seven to 10 minutes or until lightly toasted.  

Serve the soup in individual bowls, sprinkled with cheese, parsley, a nice drizzle of olive oil and a serving of toast.

You can make the soup ahead of time. Allow it to cool over an ice water bath and once cold, store and refrigerate in airtight containers for up to three days. Once cool, you may also freeze. 

I recommend not adding the pasta if making ahead of time to ensure the soup doesn’t overcook. 

You may cook the pasta separately the day you serve it and add to the soup.