Jim and I met many years ago when I had just graduated from nursing school and he was a fourth year resident. When we both started getting paychecks and had a few extra dollars, we used to go to Lelli’s Restaurant in downtown Detroit for special occasions. Their minestrone soup was the best we’d ever had….chunky and creamy and so delicious! (The picture above was taken day 2 and when it was cold, so it looks more like a stew. It tastes so much better than this picture looks. Photography is still not my forte!)
When my sister-in-law made minestrone soup for a family occasion, it was equally delicious, so of course I asked for the recipe. Would you believe that the recipe was for the famous “Lelli’s Minestrone Soup”? Thank you universe!
I’ve made this soup a number of times now and it has become a much loved regular in our home, (meaning at least 2 bowls each, and for my husband, maybe three……and that’s just the first night). It’s great because the needed ingredients are staples. I usually always have carrots, celery, onions, potatoes and crushed canned tomatoes and beans. So no extra shopping necessary!
I’ve made some changes….the original recipe calls for 4 tablespoons butter…I use just one teaspoon of olive oil and to be honest, you could get away with using none at all. The original recipe calls for chicken broth, so I subbed in the Better Than Bouillon brand no chicken broth base. This is my favorite brand of broth. It comes in vegetable and mushroom flavors also. The original recipe also called for parmesan cheese and skim milk. I’ve completed eliminated the milk, as the soup gets creamy with the blending of the beans, potatoes and broth. Instead of the dairy parmesan, I’ve sprinkled the top of my serving with Go Veggie dairy free parmesan. Leave it out and let people add it if they wish.
I’ve made this recipe with different amounts of carrots, celery, and potatoes as well as varying amounts and types of herbs. I think the combination I put together last night was the best so far!
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup broth
3/4 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
3 carrots, chopped
3 medium yukon potatoes, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil
4 cups No Chicken bouillon
1 14 ounce can cannelini beans, with juice
1 14 ounce garbanzo beans, with juice
3/4-1 bag fresh baby spinach, chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 teaspoon basil (can use fresh, to taste)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (or to taste)
1/3-1/2 cup small whole wheat macaroni-elbow, etc.
Saute onions, carrots, potatoes and celery in broth and oil until softened. Add tomatoes, rest of broth, beans, herbs and spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1-1/2 hours. Blend some of the soup into creaminess using an immersion blender. Alternatively, take out 1/2 of the mixture and blend in a standing blender and return to the pot. Add pasta and bring back to a boil and simmer until pasta is tender. Flavors continue to improve as they meld together.