For a minestrone that is more a stew than a soup, use the larger amounts of beans and pasta.Note: These instructions assume the beans or chick peas are already cooked. You can soak and cook your own, or use canned (well rinsed and well drained).
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
5 medium cloves garlic,
1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
1 stalk celery, minced
1 medium carrot, diced
small zucchini, diced and/or 1 cup diced eggplant
1 teaspoon oregano
fresh black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon basil
1 medium bell pepper, diced
3 to 4 cups (or more) water
1 – 14.5 oz. can tomato purée (approx. 2 cups)
1 to 1-1/2 cups cooked pea beans, chick peas, or kidney beans
1/2 to 1 cup dry pasta (any shape)
1 or 2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, diced (optional)
1/2 cup freshly minced parsley
Heat olive oil in a kettle or Dutch oven. Add onion, garlic, and salt. Sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, then add celery, carrot, eggplant (if using zucchini, add it later, with the bell pepper), oregano, black pepper, and basil. Cover and cook over very low heat about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add bell pepper, zucchini, water, and tomato purée. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes. Add beans and simmer another 5 minutes.
Bring soup to a gentle boil. Add pasta, stir, and cook until the pasta is tender. Stir in the diced fresh tomatoes, and serve right away, topped with parsley and Parmesan.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.