I've been asked for this recipe ever since I mentioned it on one of my social networking pages a few days ago so here it is! Since much of the country is covered in snow right now, this should hit the spot. I will also post Part 2 of Families and Food Allergy Fights next week--I'm waiting to hear a few more comments so I know what you'd like to see addressed the most.
I know that some people who deal with peanut allergies also must avoid legumes. White beans are usually used in minestrone and I do use them here. However, this soup is so flavorful that you can add another vegetable of your choice (spinach or Savoy cabbage would be good) and it will still have great flavor. I would suggest adding a bit more pasta than I call for in the recipe if you must skip the white beans to make it a little heartier.
Slow cooker fans, rejoice! I made this recipe from start to finish on the stove recently (including simmering for 30 minutes) and then placed it in my slow cooker on low until time to eat. If you go this route, then add the balsamic and extra salt and pepper right before serving. Sorry I don't have a photo to accompany this! I planned to take one but the soup was consumed before this could happen. Next time, everyone will be instructed to step away from the soup until I get my pic!
Homemade Minestrone Soup
1 can (14.5 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (you can also use the same size can of Great Northern Beans, if cannellini are not available)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
5 cups of meat stock, chicken stock or vegetable stock (I use Swanson's beef stock or organic broth)
1 (1 lb./500 g) can plum tomatoes with their juice
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
1 zucchini, coarsely chopped
small bunch of cauliflower, coarsely chopped
1/2 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup dried elbow macaroni or shells
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh parsley
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook briefly, about 2 minutes. Add the stock, the tomatoes (break them up in the pot with a wooden spoon), carrot, zucchini, cauliflower, basil, oregano, sugar and bay leaf. Cover partially and simmer until the vegetables are tender-crisp, about 20 minutes. Add the macaroni and cook uncovered until al dente (cooked, but still with some bite), 8-10 minutes.
Add the beans to the pot along with balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with parsley and Parmesan. I usually swirl a little more olive oil on top for extra body, as well.