Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Copycat Olive Garden Minestrone Soup

When the weather is on the chilly side and blustery, which we have had a lot of lately, I feel like soup. I love Olive Garden's Minestrone Soup, it's light and not too heavy which is good for summertime.... I am beginning to wonder where summertime is though. I made this soup the week my hubby had hernia surgery, he wanted something light and it was yummy. There are all kinds of Minestrone soup recipes out there, but this is the one I like. It calls for shell macaroni, but if you have the orrecheitte or elbow macaroni on hand that works too! I like to serve this with crusty french bread or bread sticks... Enjoy!

Copycat Olive Garden Minestrone Soup
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 cup minced onion (about 1 small onion)
1 cup chopped zucchini
1 cup frozen cut Italian green beans
1/2 cup celery (about 1 stalk)
1 cup julienned or shredded carrots (I buy the pre-grated carrots in the produce section)
4 teaspoons minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
5 cups vegetable broth (or you can use Chicken broth)**
3 cups Hot water
2 (15oz) cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 (15 oz) cans Cannellini Beans (white kidney beans) rinsed and drained
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoon dried parsley ( or 2 Tablespoons fresh, minced parsley)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
4 cups fresh baby spinach (or 1/2 bag frozen leaf spinach)
1 cup small seashell pasta
Parmesan cheese for Garnishing (if desired.)

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion, zucchini, green beans, celery, carrots, and garlic in the hot oil until the onion begins to turn translucent (about 5 to 7 minutes)
Next, add the broth, water, drained beans, tomatoes, spices, and bay leaves to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add the spinach (if using frozen, I let thaw or thaw out in the microwave for a minute or two) and the pasta. Cook for another 20 minutes or until pasta and veggies are tender. Sprinkle individual servings with Paresan cheese if desired.
Serve with crusty french bread and enjoy!!

**Can add more or less broth depending on how soupy you like your soup.

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