Minestrone soup is a classic, but I was never really a fan of that tomato pasty bland stuff that was served at Olive Garden, I think I just ate the bread sticks if we are being honest here. I personally love a more brothy version with lots of freshness. I skipped the potato and green beans… yawn. Instead, adding fennel, leek and lots of greens. It's delicious with the pancetta and parmesan but obviously if you are plant based, leave it out! Keep your noodles separate if you plan on storing leftovers. You don't want them to soak up all your broth!
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 30 min
Total: 45 min
4oz pancetta or bacon, chopped (optional)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion - finely chopped
1 leek - white and light green parts only, halved, and thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb - stems removed, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 garlic cloves - thinly sliced or crushed
5-6 medium sized tomatoes - roughly chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 tsp oregano - minced or ½ tsp dried
1 tsp thyme leaves - minced or 1/2 tsp dried
½ tsp chili flakes
1 parmesan rind - about 2 inches long (optional)
6 cups homemade veggie stock or store bought or water (read tips)
1 398ml/15ozcan adzuki, kidney or cannellini beans - drained and rinsed
8oz cooked small pasta of choice - such as shells, elbow, fusilli etc
4 cups chopped greens of choice - such as kale, spinach or swiss chard
Shredded parmesan (optional)
Olive oil, chili flakes
Cook your pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions until al dente, set aside.
Heat oil over medium high heat. Add pancetta, if using, and cook, stirring often until fat is rendered and browned around the edges. Reduce heat to medium and add leek, fennel, onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often until tender. About 10 minutes. Add tomato paste, chili flakes, bay leaf, thyme and oregano. Stir and cook out for 1 minute. Add your chopped tomatoes, veggie broth (or water) parmesan rind and more salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered. Add beans, greens and your cooked noodles. Cover with lid and allow greens to wilt.
Discard bay leaf and parmesan rind. Taste to check for seasoning.
Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil and more chili flakes, if desired!
If you don’t have veggie broth you can use water. I only recommend doing that if you use pancetta/bacon and the parmesan rind as they create amazing flavour.
If you have picky eaters, feel free to replace fennel with zucchini or another vegetable like green beans.