Vegetable Drawer Minestrone Soup

One of the things I love about minestrone soup is how flexible it is (at least the way I make it): there are almost no constants in the ingredients, other than onions, garlic, some form of tomatoes, and some type of beans. Other than that, pretty much anything goes.

That being said, one of the things that most frustrates me about minestrone soup is that every now and then I make a batch and think, “Oh, wow, I nailed it!” and then I realize I wasn’t really paying attention to what I’d done (and definitely didn’t measure anything) and there’s an extremely good chance I’ll never be able to perfectly replicate it.

Such is life - I try not to stress over this. At least not too much :wink:

Anyway, last week I had a bunch of veggies that needed to be used and, as it was actually cool here in southern California, I decided it was perfect soup-making weather!

2 large yellow onions, peeled, trimmed, and diced
1 head of garlic, cloves separated, peeled, trimmed, and minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Dried oregano and basil
1-2 cups (each) diced carrots and celery
Diced zucchini, yellow squash, Chinese eggplant (no idea how this differs from Japanese eggplant)
28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (Cento brand)
2 cans of diced tomatoes
4 cans of beans (cannellini, garbanzos, and “white beans”) drained and well-rinsed
Black pepper
Sea salt
Fresh oregano
Frozen green beans

Saute onion in olive oil until soft, add garlic, dried herbs, and cook a few minutes more.
Add the carrots and celery, give a stir, cover, and let cook for a few minutes.
Then add the softer veggies, canned tomatoes, and drained beans.
Stir well to combine.
Add water to cover by an inch or two, drop in a couple sprigs of fresh oregano and some fresh cracked pepper, cover, and bring to a simmer.
Once simmering, reduce heat to low, skim off any foam, and allow to cook, stirring occasionally.
After about 1/2 an hour, taste and add salt if needed. Add the frozen green beans, and let it cook some more.
Add water if needed. (I tend to prefer less broth - others may feel differently.)
Should be done in another 1/2 hour or so, once all veggies are tenderish.
If you can stand it, let soup cool and then refrigerate overnight: the flavors will really change during that time and be much fuller the next day!
Remove sprigs of fresh oregano before serving.

I usually cook pasta separately and then ladle the soup over it, so the noodles don’t absorb all the broth. Fresh Parmesan shave/grated over the top, or passed at the table for people to add if they wish, is definitely recommended.


Fresh Parmesan grated at the table — yes please! If I have basil or pesto on hand, I’ll sub that as the garnish.

I also like to cut a leafy green into thick ribbons and add near the end of the cooking time. Kale, chard, or spinach. That’s for my summer version when we have a pile of greens in the vegetable drawer (and in every available space in the fridge).


I don’t make minestrone that often, but I certainly make a ton of veggie based soups allllll winter- which is a long time on the east coast! I like adding a good gob of tomato paste and splash of wine right as the onions are just passing the extra brown stage on their way to burning. And usually a good splash of soy sauce for that umami bump that just salt doesn’t add.
I always hesitate to use eggplant in soup but i dontknow why…
this combo sounds delicious! I totally agree it’s significantly better the next day, i think most veg based soups are.


Me too, maybe the colour and the texture?


I hesitated, too, but then decided to go for it. The egplants were very thin-skinned and the flesh ended up really breaking down and acting as a thickener more than anything - I could detect no eggplant flavor and the texture was fine.

My mother says that this batch didn’t taste much like minestrone, as she thinks of it, but rather a thick vegetable soup that happens to have tomatoes in it. We’ve agreed more oregano might change that. Also, I spaced on adding any tomato paste - that, too, would have changed the final flavor.

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We usually have multiple critters under the roof who require lots of fresh greens - I have to separate the “save for the humans” leafy stuff from the “give to ravenous and demanding beasties” supply, else they get it before we do!

I thought about adding kale to this pot, but then forgot all about it when it was nearing the end of the cooking time. The bunnies were pleased with my oversight.


LOL, I’d guess the “ravenous and demanding beasties” in your household expect first dibs on greens. They probably use their cuteness to good advantage. :wink:


I see those gorgeous thin skinned chinese eggplant with some frequency, i’ll be sure to give this a try before souping season is over!

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Aye, well, yes. Though they do tend to stand in their salad dish and remove bits to get to other parts

Or, with the ancient one, fall asleep with their chin resting on the edge of the bowl



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