Harvest Minestrone Soup
This is my ultimate fall recipe. I know I call this a soup, but it is so full of chunky garden vegetables, it is really more of a stew. It is meant for those cool autumn evenings and will warm you to the core after a busy day of work in the garden. Speaking of your garden, this is the spot for everything that you are harvesting right now: tomatoes, zucchini, onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, celery, greens and herbs.
Use your biggest soup pot for this one, it makes a large batch!
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
3 slices raw bacon, chopped
1 1/2 lb ground beef, pork or sausage
6 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
2 small onions, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
3 medium zucchini, diced
1 large russet potato, diced
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
8 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
1 can cannellini beans, drained (14 oz)
4 cups diced tomatoes
6 to 8 cups chicken broth
1 cup dried shell pasta (or other small pasta such as ditalini or tubetti)
2 handfuls chopped greens (such as chard, spinach or kale), optional
salt and pepper to taste
grated parmesan cheese for serving
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
In a large dutch oven or soup pot over high heat, add 1/4 cup olive oil. Add ground meat and cook until well browned. Add bacon and cook until just begining to crisp up.
Lower heat to medium. Add garlic, onions, celery, carrots, zucchini, potatoes, rosemary and thyme. Cook for about 5 minutes just until they begin to soften.
Add beans, tomatoes and chicken stock. Make sure you have enough stock to cover all your ingredients by at least 1/2". Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Skim off any foam that forms on the top.
Add pasta and stir to combine. Continue to simmer for length of time indicated on your pasta packaging and until pasta is al dente and potatoes are tender, 5 to 10 minutes more. Add the greens, if using, about 2 minutes before cooking is completed to wilt.
Season generously with salt and pepper. The amount of salt you need will be dependent on the saltiness of your broth and bacon. Taste as you go so you get the perfect amount of each!
Serve hot with a good sprinkle of parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil and some good hearty bread.
Serves 8 - 10