Monday, September 20, 2010

Tuscan Minestrone Soup

Whenever I travel to Cedar Rapids, Iowa my older sister and I have a tradition of going to Olive garden for lunch. It all started when we were college students and she would treat me to the -all you can eat soup and salad- lunch special. She had a job and I didn't, so like any big sister she looked out for me, thanks Sis! My favorite was the minestrone soup with warm bread sticks. If you ever wondered like me whether they really have an Olive Garden Cooking school in Italy, well to my surprise the answer is yes, they do. It's located in Castellina in Chianti, Italy which is not very far from where I photographed this lovely Tuscan countryside when hubby and I traveled to visit some friends earlier this year.
Inspired by nostalgia ,both for my sister and for Italy, here is my own version of minestrone soup.

These are the main ingredients and like me, feel free to be creative with spices and with vegetables that are in season. I chose to prepare a vegetarian soup but you can certainly add meat to your recipe.

1 can of kidney beans, drained
1-2 cans of vegetable broth
1 can of diced tomatoes
2 carrots, diced
2 bell peppers,chopped
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic , chopped
1-2 cups of pasta (cooked according to directions on box)
1 tsp of dried celery (you can use fresh)
1 tsp oregano
1 or 2 bay leaves
1/2 cup of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
basil for garnish you can also use parsley or cilantro


saute onions,garlic, bell peppers and carrots for about 5-8 minutes or until lightly browned. Then add beans, tomatoes, broth and spices. Simmer for about 30-45 minutes or until vegetables are tender. It's best to cook at medium heat. Add cooked pasta and simmer for 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

The texture was a bit chunky so next time I think I would add more vegetable broth, I guess the beans absorb a lot of the liquid while cooking, but nevertheless it was very flavorful due to the oregano and bay leaves. After reserving a small portion for Beli I added crushed red pepper, just enough to make it spicy!

There is nothing like a warm and flavorful Italian version
of comfort food to brighten your day!


  1. Yummy...I was just thinking what I should have a lunch and this sounds perfect! I love comfort food:)
    Happy Monday,darling

  2. Yum! Looks good, although along with the addition of crushed red peppers, I would add a little meat. Either chicken or stew beef. I'm a definite meat and potatoes girl!! :-)) Thanks for the recipe too!

  3. Looks very delicious! I think I will give this a try very soon. The weather here is so rainy and gray and this looks like wonderful comfort food. Thanks for sharing :)

  4. was the weather that bad yesterday in Split ?

    just kidding, and your right twice.
    thinning this soup a little bit is better, adding some sliced kobacice (sorry piggy) is great, and if you want to win prices with it, top it with a firm spoon of whipped cream, flavoured with a pinch of salt and some parmesan cheese.
    (cream whipped to ïrish coffee firmness, and of course NO sugar added).

    another tip (if your not to much of a vegetarian), cook it with a peace of the smoked skin of pancetta, just for the taste of it !!!!
    take that skin out for some cats later, they will love you.

  5. Nice to see your recipes. I'm going to start making more stews and soups now since fall is basically here; the leaves are already starting to turn and the temperature is dropping. Thanks for the inspiration and for stopping by my blog.

  6. Your soup and memories are lovely. It is so nice to have a recipe for your soup. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  7. Yes, its the perfect comfort food Diana. and the leftovers where just as good!

  8. Debbie, Yes I came across several recipes that included meat and cooked in a slow cooker. Aww I forgot to put potatoes!

  9. @Biking in heels, let me know how it turns out for you. I'm curious to know what are some of your favorite recipes, can you find most of the ingredients in Denmark?

    stay warm and safe when driving your bike to school!

  10. Pim, but I don't have any cats, haha but yes I agree I will probably try pancetta next time as hubby likes to eat meat.

  11. Yummm, this looks absolutely delicious! I'm filing this in my recipe folder to make on a chilly fall or winter day :)

  12. I.M. thanks!although not as creative as the chickpea stew you made. Now I'm thinking of making papas fritas!

  13. oh dear Elisa, no cats, now what to do ;-)
    I can help to one or two, since our "divno" cat has three kittens.

    And if I may suggest a nice meal for "hubby", make him some osso buco.
    If you need, I'll gladly mail you the secret formula of that delicious Italian dish.

    By the way, do you folks have something to do next sunday ?
    Osso buco for "him/them", some rabitfood for you ?

    Bog, and let me know, Pim.

  14. Ah, what a heart warming sister story. I always wanted a big sister, but I'm the big sister. I have three younger sisters and love it when my little sisters come visit. I love Italian food and minestrone is one of my favorite soups although I hardly make it. I should! I'm inspired by your post. Thanks always for checking my blog, too. It brings me a smile to see you there! I feel like I have known you for a while! xo Kaho

  15. Thanks for the recipe. There's nothing like a warm bowl of soup on an autumn day.

    Greetings from London.

  16. looks yummy! I can't believe Olive Garden actually has an Italian school! I figured that was all a marketing ploy. Good to know!

  17. im making this this weekend!!


Thank you for your comments!

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