With the vegetables, we add whatever is around, being fond on onion, garlic, and tomato. The original recipe calls for zucchini, but I am not a huge fan of it in soup, so we just adjust other amounts accordingly. If leaks are out of season and too expensive, we also adjust other quantities of veggies. It’s just a launching board!
We have also experimented with the type of pasta/grain added to the soup. We have added small mini-sized pasta, medium-sized pasta, rice, tortellini, ravioli, and this last time we added orzo, which was fantastic.
The cheese rind is necessary, adding an amazing flavor to the broth. Cheese rinds can be find at your local gourmet cheese counter. I have seen bags of cheese rinds packaged together for sale specifically for soups, but I have also asked the workers at the cheese counter if they have any. They are often left over. Or use the soup as an excuse to buy some nice cheese to use for the rind!
If you have a specific choice of been to add, feel free! We like cannellini beans, garbanzo, any type of white bean works well.
Vegetable Minestrone Soup, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
2 Leeks, sliced, white and light green parts only
10 baby cut carrots, chopped (any type of carrot will work, we always have baby carrots on hand)
2 medium onions, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cubed
3-4 cups spinach, cut into strips ( I trim the stems off as well)
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
8 cups water
2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes, drained of liquids
Cheese rind, any type of hard cheese, can be found at gourmet cheese counter, ask
1/4 cup pesto (I have found this optional)
1 cup Orzo, uncooked
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper, to taste
- In a cast iron soup pot, add all chopped vegetables, tomatoes, garlic, cheese rind, and water and bring to a boil. Once brought to a boil, turn heat to medium low and let simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
- Add Orzo, or preferred pasta, and cook an additional 10 minutes, or until grain/pasta is at the desired tenderness.
- Add garbanzo beans and cook until beans are warm, about 5 minutes.
- Mix in pesto, if using, and add salt and pepper to taste.