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Looking for a minestrone or vegetable soup recipe

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hello All;
I'm looking for a minestrone soup recipe or Vegetable Soup Recipe that uses pasta as one of the ingredients but where the vegetable taste doesn't overpower the broth taste.

I got my inspiration to create such a recipe from several restaurants I visit plus from one canned soup recipe (Muir Glen Organic Garden Vegetable Soup).

In all of the Minestrone and Vegetable soups I've tried to make, the broth seems to not have that much flavor and so most of what I taste are the vegetables. In the Muir Glen Garden Vegetable soup (Which contains pasta), they seem to have the right combination of spices to make it a little spicy but not too spicy. Same is true with the Restaurant soups too. I would love to find a good recipe or two to try. Anyone have any secrets or tricks to try or "secret" recipes ?

I am trying to eat healthier and I don't like all of the salt and perhaps MSG that restaurants use in soups - plus I'm trying to save some bucks by making it myself. Some salt is OK, but not too much.

Thanks much.

post #2 of 16
The secret to good minestrone in my opinion is parmigianno cheese rind. Simmer some cheese rind in the soup as soon as you add liquid. The rind is hard and will withstand the simmering. While the cheese is hard too, it can melt away into the soup. Not necessarily a bad thing but can be hard to correct the taste at that point.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #3 of 16
try cooking raw beans,small white or fava beans. in a tomato veggie stock then add carrots,onions,celery,garlic to taste and oregano at the end add shreaded kale or some type of greens cook until tender then add your small pasta. when ready to serve add some parm. cheese
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks all for the suggestions. However, these have generated another question. Anyone have a recipe or two for tasty (And perhaps just a tad spicy) tomato veggie stock ? The stock is my whole problem - it doesn't seem to have much taste and doesn't taste anything like I'd find in a can of soup or get in a restaurant.

I'm hoping I don't have to buy the tomato veggie stock in a can to get the results I desire.

Thanks for any suggestions/recipes you may have for either homemade (or restaurant-made) minestrone/vegetable soup and/or tomato veggie stock.

post #5 of 16

I make vegetable or Minestrone soup a couple of times a month, and have developed a basic stock that you may want tp experiment with. Since you can get Muir Glen products, it should be a good starting point for you. Here y'go:

3 med, 4 or 5 small, carrots - roughly chopped
1 medium or two small onions, chopped
(red onions add a bit of sweetness and also add reddish color)
2 ribs celery - chopped, leaves ok
1 small-med leek, white and a little green-white parts only
2 small - medium tomatoes, as fresh as possible
(in other words, don't get those insipid, out-of-season tomatoes
from Mexico, or crappy hot-house tomatoes), large dice *OR*
½ or more 14-oz can whole Muir Glen fire roasted
tomatoes with juice, chop tomatoes roughly
1/4 cup (small handful) Italian flat leaf parsley, sprigs & leaves
1 large Turkish bay leaf
8- 10 black or mixed peppercorns
(I use a pepper melange mix and add a few of the szechuan peppercorns)
½ dried chipotle pepper, quartered, seeds in *OR*
½ small dried Ancho pepper, *OR*
½ small, fresh jalapeno or other similar pepper (optional but adds a nice bite)
lately I've taken to using a small poblano pepper cut in rings and a few of it's seeds
1 1/2 - 2 quarts water
Add ingredients to water, bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 35 - 45 minutes.
Let sit off heat for a while. Strain pressing on vegetables to extract all their flavor

NOTE: Play with the chile peppers to find which you prefer. When making the soup itself, you can add some more tomatoes or juice from canned tomatoes. Whenever I make spaghetti sause I save the reserved juice from the canned tomatoes and use it in the veggie stocks or part of a soup base.

Hope this helps,


post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hi Shel;
Your stock recipe sounds really neat. I will use this as a base for Minestrone or Vegetable soup asap (within a week) and will report my results here. Your recipe utilizes a lots of ingredients that I generally don't cook with (Such as leeks, turkish bay leaf, any variety of hot pepper, even peppercorns ... I use just plain granulated pepper) so I'm expecting a new and different taste than the bland results I always got in the past.

Thanks a lot;

post #7 of 16
Making soup and stock is, imo, a good way to learn to cook and to learn about flavors, The ingredients can often be gotten inexpensively or even free, and failed experiments won't set you back too much in the way of time or $$$.

You may be surprised at the difference in taste between fresh ground pepper and the pre-ground stuff you may have hanging around. Pepper, being a mainstay in cooking, should, imo, be one of the first things you buy along with a good pepper grinder. If you want to getinto fresh ground pepper "on the cheap," there are a number of brands of pepper that you can buy that come in jars that have a grinder attached. I know that both McCormicks and Trader Joe's sell black peppercorns with such grinders. The negative aspect of such a grinder is that you cannot control the fineness of the grind, but for getting started it's a pretty good option.
When you decide to get a grinder, get a good one. There are any number on the market that can be adjusted for grind and which are strong and durable, I've settled on one made by Peugot and have been quite pleased with it. It wasn't cheap - maybe about $40.00 at Sur la Table, a cooking and kitchenware chain, and I did get it in olive wood, which was more expensive than some of the other options.

Muir Glen provides some pretty decent canned tomatoes, although I've been trying other brands and types as well. Look for true San Marzano tomatoes from Italy - be sure to get real San Marzano's - there are a few brands out there like LaValle that have the DOP synbol on the can - look for those. Apart from San Marzano's there are a few other good Italian brands that you might look for. One that's you might like is an organic tomato packed by Bionaturae - very low in salt, almost blanf by American standards, but with a great tomato taste once you get past the lack of salt that so many of us have become used to.

There are two types of bay leaves that you'll find in the markets. One is from the California Bay Laurel, which is very nice, but I find it a little overpowering in some recipes, so I generally don't use them, especially when cooking foods with recipes that have their origin in places like Italy, Mediterrannean countries, and the like. Plus, I live where many Bay Laurel trees grow, and if I want to use such leaves, it's easy to pick 'em right off the trees and let 'em dry.

Leeks can carry a lot of dirt between their layers. Be sure to clean them well. A good way to do that is to cut the leek in half lengthwise and then chop it into appropriately-sized pieces. Put the pieces in a collander, run cold water over them while moving them around and rinsing off the dirt. This technique is pretty efficient as it lets you see the dirt quite well.

Since you're not familiar with chile peppers, start simply. Poblano and jalapeno are pretty ubiquitous, so start with one of those and see how you like the heat and flavor. Poblanp peppers are generally quite mild.alapenos tend to be hotter. Most of the heat in chile peppers is in the seeds and the ribs inside the peppers. You might want to deseed and derib the peppers (at least the jalapenos) until you become familiar with the heat levels the peppers produce. The poblano, being quite a bit milder, is such that yiou might find using some of the seeds to be a nice way to hadd heat without it being too intense.

Anyway, good luck, and feel free to ask lots of questions here while your looking for ingredients and preparing the recipes.

Kind regards,
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for the additional tips, Shel. I will see how many I can find at my local stores around here and will ask you if I have difficulty. I also shop at a few organic food stores (Including Trader Joes) so I may have pretty good luck in finding things. Thanks for the info. on the pepper grinder. I see chef's on the food network using one all the time so I know you have something there. If you've been following my discussion about a professional meat slicer, you'd see that I tend to buy things that will be most durable and long-lasting (And bells and whistles don't hurt either )
rather than getting the cheapest thing on the market as some folks do. So your recommendation for a pepper grinder looks like a great one. And thanks for all of the maryid of other advice you offered throughout your whole message that I havn't highlighted.

This is me jumping for joy ! :bounce:

post #9 of 16
I don't have my ministrone recipe with me, but I do know it consists of spicy Italian sausage, diced fire-roasted tomatoes, garlic, onion, basil, carrots, celery, chicken stock, and some salt and ground black pepper to taste. Rigatoni Pasta is added and I garnish the dish with Parmigiano Reggiano and serve with crusty bread. It's really delicious.
Meet Austin- destroyer of all picky eaters. He's watching you...
Meet Austin- destroyer of all picky eaters. He's watching you...
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
That's interesting, Austin;
I have never had minestrone soup with italian sausage in it but it does sound like it would go good with it. Also, I don't recall if any of my recipes used chicken stock. It is possible but the actual recipes I've tried to make didn't use any - probably because I try to stay away from store-bought "too salty" chicken stock.

So far, all of the recipes I've tried only use Tomatoes in some variety, vegetables, and some spices though so far all of my attempts have been too bland and way too "vegetable" taste. I prefer the "Full of taste" soups I buy in a can, or in a restaurant. So you and the other responders have given me some things to experiment with.

post #11 of 16
A "true" minestrone doesn't contain sausage or meat, but that doesn't mean you can't add it if that's what you like. Chicken stock is also not "authentic" afaik. However, there are numerous regional and individual variations. For example, in Tuscany minestrone is made as often to make Ribolleta as it is to be eaten as a straight soup, and most of the Tuscan recipes I've seen ask for a beef or meat stock.

That's the real beauty of soup, IMO, it can be whatever you want it to be, perhaps more so than when preparing other types of meals. Soup has always been a very free-form creation, often made with leftover vegetables and meat.

I prefer to keep my vegetable and Minestrone soups meat free, letting beans or pasta provide the bulk and some protein. I like mine with leafy greens, but not with cabbage so much as spinach, chard, or kale.

OTOH, you've got variations of the Italian wedding soup, which often contains leafy greens, small pasta (like orzo) and small meat balls, amongst other ingredients. It can be a lovely soup or a real mess depending on how it's put together, Likewise, vegetable soups with meat in them, or meat soups with too many or too much of the wrong veggies.

Austin seems to have found something he likes, and it may be an inspiration to you and others. I'm certainly thinking of how some of my veggie soups might fare with the addition of meat.

Kind regards,

post #12 of 16
Most Italians i know make minestrone beginning with a "soffritto" - that is, celery, carrot, onion, garlic, chopped and then slowly sauteed in oil. That releases lots of flavor into the soup.
I have NEVER had minestrone that began with stock. It makes its own stock as it cooks.
If you don;t want too strong vegetable tastes, avoid the cabbage family. I use zucchine, winter squash if it's winter, spinach and/or swiss chard and/or escarole, more carrots, celery and onion, peas, string beans, potatoes, whatever vegetables are on hand. I personally don;t like tomato in it, and but if you liek them i would not put them in unless they're good ones in season.
salt, pepper. (black pepper in tuscany, hot pepper further south, but just a little) I wouldn;t add herbs except parsley - no origano, no strong flavored herbs - they overpower the taste of the vegetables. I would cook the beans separately, or the vegetables will be way overcooked. The exception to this is if you have access to FRESH beans, like canellini or borlotti - you shell them like peas and they cook in much less time (and are less floury - wonderful actually, and i prefer to just eat them boiled in the summer when they're in season and not waste them in minestrone.).
Meat is usually not a part of minestrone as far as i know, though my grandmother used to make a "battuta" (finely chopped up soffritto) of pork fat for her spinach and lentil soup, with garlic, onion, parsley etc sauteed with it)
the pasta is added at the end, and traditionally this is where you use all the pasta scraps you have, mixed together. (They even sell these mixes here) because this is the only case where some of the pasta can be somewhat overcooked.
Here in italy, at the open air vegetable markets, they always have pre-cut vegetables for minestrone. While every town in italy has its way of making this (maybe every family in every town), in Rome, every NEIGHBORHOOD has its way. In Testaccio there is always cabbage and cauliflower, in San Giovanni there never is. etc.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
post #13 of 16
AHHH yes the cheese rind, I had a great market in the north end that would give me all I wanted. Don't go giving out all the secrets now ;)
post #14 of 16
My base is carrots,cellery,onions,garilc,cabbage, herbs and spices, and what ever else I have for veggies. Cook it down till it is tender add meat if you like, if not add Garbonso beans and or other beans(liquid and all if canned). I usually add water and tom sauce, and or paste. Cook for an hour or so and you will have a nice tom/veg broth soup. I don't believe in recipies because I am Itallian, so this is the best I can do.
post #15 of 16
If memory serves me correct ministrone just mean a soup of med thickness. I have made it with everything from veggies, to lamb and anything in between.
post #16 of 16
Tyler Florence makes a delicious "hunter's ministrone", with chicken stock/broth and pork sausage with rigatoni. I made mine slightly differently, and I basically cooked the rigatoni noodles in the chicken stock kind of like rissoto, and I add spicy Italian instead of basic pork. I also add a couple extra cloves of garlic with, well, what I told you I added. xD. Different vegetables as well. Sometimes if I don't have enough chicken stock I use a little bit of red wine at let it cook through- really compliments the flavor of the tomatoes. Sometimes I like to add bacon, and I usually go a bit overdoce with Parmesan cheese. This is your soup, make it the way you want. You can keep it traditional- or you can use that basic idea and make it all your own. Every chef has their own way of doing things- it's either traditional- or all jazzed up. You choose.
Meet Austin- destroyer of all picky eaters. He's watching you...
Meet Austin- destroyer of all picky eaters. He's watching you...
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