Many summers ago, I lived with two friends who were both Vegan. If you've followed me for even a few posts, it should be very clear that I love meat and cheese.
But, I wanted to be a good roommate, so I avoided cooking with meat. In fact, I really didn't cook any meat at all- with the exception of a Crockpot full of sloppy joes for my 4th grade class. But even then, I carefully closed my roommates' bedroom doors and opened the windows in the hopes that they would make the sacrifice of inhaling the smell of meat for my inner-city 9 year olds.
And despite my sacrifice of cooking without meat, in the end I need to thank both of them for opening my meat and potato eyes up to the wonderful world of vegetables. These girls loved to cook, and they made the most inspiring things without using any meat or dairy. Catherine could bake a chocolate cake ten times better than any chocolate cake made with butter and eggs. Mary could make incredible creations with spaghetti squash (always different, and thus always called "squash surprise!").
Of course, this is a post about minestrone soup. And, as I was saying, I really wanted to be a good roommate.
It was August, and Mary and I had actually dug out (what optimists might call) a garden in our backyard. This is to say, all that really grew successfully in the garden were the herbs. But, our lack of vegetable bounty failed to dampen our spirits since we lived just a block away from the wonderful farmers market in Bethesda where the stalls were overflowing with zucchini, squash, tomatoes, beans, and so much more.
I scoured cookbooks looking for recipes with these ingredients. I landed on a recipe for minestrone soup. I couldn't begin to tell you where I found the recipe now, and it doesn't really matter since it's been improved over and over again. I only know that it made two vegans very happy four summers ago. And, that my husband- who dislikes every member of the squash family (excepting acorn squash) actually eats this. It could be the mozzarella cheese which I now put on top.
Summer Harvest Minestrone
- 3-4 cups of vegetable broth (I actually used homemade chicken stock this time)
- 1 cup of diced potato
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 1 1/2 pounds of Roma tomatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 yellow squash, sliced
- 1 zucchini, sliced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- fresh herbs (basil, rosemary, oregano, and thyme), to taste*
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 can cannellini beans
- 1 cup of green beans
- Fun noodles (bowtie, etc.)
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Optional: Parmesan Cheese Rind (this adds great flavor to the soup)
* I tend to put a lot of fresh basil in my soup. Taste it from time to time to see which flavors you like best.
Combine all ingredients except green beans, cannellini beans, noodles, and cheese. Cook on low/medium heat in a Crockpot for 4-5 hours. Check the vegetables for tenderness. Add water if necessary.
During the last half hour of cooking, add the green beans and cannelini beans. (Note: I sometimes use half cannelini beans and half kidney beans.)
Cook noodles separately and add when serving. Add grated Parmesan when serving.
Enjoy warm with a slice of toasty garlic bread.
This soup freezes really well, so I always freeze several containers to enjoy later.
And as for my old roommates, I like to think that this soup is one of the reasons we're still all good friends. But, that would be silly. . . right?