So, I eat soup a lot, especially in the winter when I’m grumpy and hibernating. I’m also Italian and vegan, which makes things really complicated. I’m always trying to veganize my favorite Italian recipes (except for pizza, because nothing can ever replace real pizza). So, I created my very own ... vegan minestrone. This minestrone is one of my favorite winter meals—it’s hearty, it’s warm, and it makes lots of leftovers so you can spend the rest of your weeknights binge-watching Forensic Files (okay, maybe that’s just me.)
Before I break down the recipe for you, I’ll just give you a rundown of what’s in this minestrone in case you want to do what I call, “wing it and hope for the best.” This soup includes: onions, garlic, zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, cannellini beans, spinach, vegetable stock/broth, ditalini, tomato paste, and basil/pesto (fresh basil, pine nuts, lemon, salt/pepper, and parmigiana if you’re not an annoying vegan like me).
I also threw some sundried tomatoes in there that I had lying around because, why the hell not? That's kind of the whole idea behind soup: throw a bunch of crap into the pot and season until it tastes good. Right? Right.
You can also add celery, but I don’t because celery is kind of the Ben Stein of vegetables. (Don’t take it personally, celery. I just don't think you're very exciting.)
Without further ado, here’s my recipe for vegan minestrone.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 small zucchini or one large, quartered
2 cups chopped carrots
3 cloves of garlic, minced (I usually go for 4 or 5 because … Italian)
Oregano and dried basil to your liking
Crushed red pepper (optional)
2 bay leaves (dry is fine)
Salt and pepper
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (I use roma; feel free to substitute for canned)
½ to 1 cup of chopped sundried tomatoes (optional)
2 14 oz containers of vegetable stock or broth (some people have a strong preference. I am not one of those people)
1 cup ditalini pasta
2 cups fresh spinach or kale
3 or 4 tablespoons tomato paste (depends on how thick you want it)
1- 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained
Water, if needed
Fresh pesto (see above. Also note, you can add some cashew cream to your pesto to make it really creamy. It's a great cheese/cream replacement.)
Saute your onion, garlic, and carrots on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add zucchini and sundried tomatoes.
Season with oregano, crushed red pepper, dried basil, salt, pepper. Add bay leaves.
Add fresh tomatoes, sundried, and veggie stock. Bring to a boil. Add fresh spinach or kale. Add pasta and cook for 7-9 minutes until al dente. (Be careful to not add the pasta too early. Check your carrots to make sure they’re getting soft first. The pasta will cook fairly quickly and will plump up even more after it sits for a while.)
Stir in tomato paste and beans. Stir until combined.
If needed, add a little water to the soup (the pasta soaks up a lot of that liquid. IT’S SCIENCE.)
I usually top mine with a glob of vegan pesto, which I strongly believe makes everything better. Sometimes I even drizzle a little balsamic on top if I’m feeling a little crazy. Serve with a hunk of Tuscan bread and a large glass of red wine.
By the way, Sylvia Plath Hedgehog says HI.
If you’re looking for a great vegan cookbook / cooking website, check out Thug Kitchen. Creative recipes and f* bombs. You really can’t go wrong!