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Last-Minute Minestrone

Adapted from Taste of Home

minestroneMother Nature is being very cruel. We’ve gone from flip-flop weather to flip-flopped weather. One day it’s golden rays of sunshine, birds chirping merrily and everyone singing Pharrell’s “Happy.” The next it’s like Snow Miser has come to town. Today was one of the latter. I feared everything I touched would freeze and burst into snowflakes, just like Snow Miser did in The Year Without a Santa Claus. Except I don’t live in an ice castle and I don’t go around singing “I’m Mr. White Christmas, I’m Mr. Snow. I’m Mr. Icicle, I’m Mr. Ten Below. Friends call me Snow Miser, whatever I touch, turns to snow in my clutch!”

It was a soup-for-the-soul kinda day. Hubby asked for minestrone. I planned to cook up some of the beef and pork earlier in the day for make-your-own-taco lunch. I decided to cook the entire batch in Mexican seasoning and use a Mexican-flavored pinto bean in the minestrone. My cooking knows no borders. And, it’s what I had in the house.

If you don’t cook the meat ahead of time, cook while soup base is simmering. Be sure to drain fat before adding to French oven (or saucepan). I imagine this would have made 10 servings, but in my house it may have made 5-6. I hope this cold spell is over; there is only enough leftovers for one more meal.


What you need:

  • 1/4 c EVOO
  • 1/2 lg Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 4-5 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 4-5 c broth (veg, chicken or beef)
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 c San Marzano tomato sauce (I buy cans of whole San Marzano tomatoes in juice and puree)
  • 1 c shredded fresh carrots (thinly sliced works too)
  • 1/4 c chopped basil
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • 1 sm zucchini
  • 1 sm summer squash
  • 1 c chopped fresh green beans (1” pcs)
  • 1 c Mexican pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 c chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 c uncooked ditalini
  • Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
  • Fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

What you do:

  • In French oven heat oil
  • Add onions and celery and sauté until tender.
  • Add garlic and sauté 1 min.
  • Add 3 c broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, carrots and basil.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil and reduce heat.
  • Cover and simmer, about an hour.
  • Add cooked beef/pork.
  • Add zucchini, summer squash, kidney and pinto beans.
  • Stir in dry pasta.
  • Stir into soup along with the zucchini, beans and pasta.
  • Cover and continue simmering for 25-30 min, until pasta is al dente.
  • Check often and add additional broth until desired consistency is reached.
  • Serve in individual serving bowls topped with freshly grated cheese.