One of my favorite things to do that also helps keep me mindful is cooking for my family. From buying seasonal vegetables to cutting them to smelling the aromas of the flavors working together, the love and time that goes into a home cooked meal is a rare and savored experience in today’s frazzled, hurried world. On this rainy day what better meal to make with all of these delicious seasonal vegetables still flooding into the farmer’s market than minestrone?
You keep working hard and you eat minestrone. -Claudia Melis, 99, a resident of the island of Sardinia where there are more centenarians per capita than anywhere in the world.
Sardinians credit their longevity to a Mediterranean diet of lots of minestrone and little meat.
Minestrone Recipe, serves 6
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
Medium zucchini, cut into half-moons
1 medium potato, cubed
1 ear of corn kernels, cooked and cut from ear (or half cup canned corn)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 can (14 oz / 400 grams) of diced tomatoes or 14 oz fresh blended tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup white beans (any kind you prefer), cooked
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved and sautéed (optional)
1 lb small pasta, cooked according to package directions
Dried pistou seasoning to taste (optional, we had this from our France travels so it was available in our cabinet and made for a nice addition)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Fresh oregano to garnish
Heat a large heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat and olive oil, then add onion and garlic. Sautee until soft then add the carrot, celery, zucchini, oregano and bay leaf. Then add potatoes and corn. Cook for a few minutes to allow the vegetables to soften.
Add the diced tomatoes, 3 cups (710 ml) of the vegetable stock and potato and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cover the pot. Simmer gently until the potato is cooked through.
Meanwhile, in a separate pot cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain and set aside. (I keep the pasta separate because otherwise you risk it getting too soft and falling a part in the soup, especially if you need up storing in for later.)
Add the beans and sautéed fresh tomatoes, salt, pepper and pistou. If you prefer a thinner soup, add more vegetable stock. Let simmer on low heat until ready to serve. Also remember you can make this soup in advance, the wonderful advantage to this is the flavors will become more enhanced the next day.
To serve the soup, divide the pasta between your bowls and ladle the minestrone over top. Sprinkle with fresh oregano if desired.