I love to see different renditions of everyday comfort foods whether it be mac and cheese, mashed potatoes or a hearty Minestrone. Whether you are in New York or Italy, you will have as many different varieties of Minestrone for as many homes where it is served. There are many schools of thought on the vegetables that should go in this soup, as well as what type of beans and pasta to use. Some people use leftover vegetable contorni in the true spirit of cucina povera, and some use fresh veggies especially sourced for this soup. No matter your preferences, the ingredients for this soup are accessible in any season and on any budget and will bring pleasure and comfort to your loved ones on Meatless Monday. Buon Appetito!
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (1¼ cups)
4 cloves garlic, peeled
3 large carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (2 cups)
3 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (1 cup)
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4 cups of Seasonedfork garden stock
1 ¼ cups (6 oz.) tiny pasta (or any gluten-free smaller sized pasta)
⅓ cup chopped fresh basil or fresh basil pesto, plus more thinly shredded basil for garnish
6 Tbs. Parmesan cheese, for serving, optional
Heat oil in large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 4 minutes, or until softened. Add carrots and celery, and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes, add thyme sprigs, and cook 2 minutes more.Smash 1/2 cup chickpeas with back of a fork to form paste. Add smashed and whole chickpeas, broth, and 2 cups water to pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 5 minutes. Add ditalini and basil, and cook 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.Thin soup with broth or water (if necessary), and adjust seasoning. Remove thyme sprigs, and serve garnished with shredded basil and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese (if using).
Serve with a glass of equally accessible Famiglia Red Blend from Mattebella Vineyards in Southold.