This Italian Vegetable soup with pasta and beans is a great way to warm and fill you up during the cold winter months. You can exchange other vegetables for the ones listed or leave a few out and give your minestrone your own accent. This Mixed-Bean Minestrone Stew is an ample lunch or supper entree with slices of Whole Wheat or Whole Grain bread.
- 2 cups mixed dry beans (navy, garbanzo, kidney)
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 3 garlic cloves sliced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
- 1/8 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 tsp. dried rosemary
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup peeled and cubed eggplant (or cabbage, squash, broccoli)
- 4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (or 32 oz. canned)
- 1 large Idaho or baking potato, cubed (about 1 cup)
- 6 cups purified water (or vegetable stock for added flavor)
- 1 cup chopped fresh green beans or frozen peas
- 1 1/2 cups alphabet pasta or prepared barley
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Fresh cracked pepper
Soak the beans in a large pot with 6 cups of water and the baking soda overnight. Add the bay leaf to the pot, place over medium high heat, and boil the beans for 45 minutes until tender (they should pierce easily with a fork). Meanwhile, you can prepare the vegetables.
In a separate large pot, sweat the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in the olive oil on low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to bring out the natural vegetable juices as a base for the soup. Stir in the Italian seasoning, chili flakes, rosemary and salt, along with the eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes and any other vegetables you’d like to use. Then pour in the water or stock and continue to cook for 20 minutes. Add the cooked beans, green beans or peas, and pasta or cooked barley to the soup and cook on medium heat for another 15 minutes.
Serve in a large soup bowl and sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper (optional) and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese. Or you could add a small dollop of pesto.