Garden Minestrone Soup

I know I live in the right place when I wake up and peek out my bedroom windows only to see the sun is not shining… and I'm actually giddy about it. I can run! I can get tasks done! No sunny-day Seattle pressure to go out and soak it all in! I love the sun in doses, but I need a few grey days here and there to recharge.  

This is a soup for a rainy day, or a cloudy one at least. In fact, if you make it on a sunny day I can’t guarantee it will taste as good. There doesn't seem to be an agreed-upon definition for minestrone soup; trust me when I say this one tastes nothing like the minestrone of your childhood. I pulled just about everything in it from my friend’s garden and threw in some pasta and chicken broth for bulk. 

After a drizzly morning walk one day this week, I headed to a friend's house (who I’ve known since back in these days) for a warm, fall meal. I chopped and sliced and diced while another friend made her famous biscuits, this time with fresh herbs, cheddar, and gruyere. Our host sliced up apples from her tree for a fall crisp with a sweet, crumbly topping. It was a slow, grey afternoon of good, filling food and no agenda to attend to. 

I made the soup from what I had on hand; you’re welcome to add whatever vegetables you like. I started by sautéing the onions and shallots (some garlic would also be good). I added a box of chicken broth and the potatoes and pasta, as they take the longest to cook. I then threw in some chopped carrots, celery, the leftover beans from this post (though you could easily use a can of white beans instead) some fresh basil and sage, and finally some chopped tomatoes. We all agreed that we hate can tomatoes, but the fresh version cooked down just a little bit are not nearly as bad. Let it simmer until the pasta and potatoes are cooked through the carrots and celery are still a bit toothsome. Stir in kale and let soften for 5-10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve piping hot in bowls, preferably with some biscuits. Meals like this remind me why I love the Northwest. 

Garden Minestrone Soup

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:
1 onion - chopped
1 shallot - chopped
1 box chicken broth (plus 8-12 additional ounces; can also use water for extra liquid)
3-4 small potatoes - diced
6 oz whole wheat spiral pasta
2 carrots - diced
2 stalks celery - diced
Fresh (or canned) tomatoes - chopped
1 can beans (I used the leftovers of these, but you could also use canned white beans)
1/2 bunch kale - chiffonade
fresh basil - chiffonade
fresh sage - chiffonade
cayenne
salt
pepper
optional : parmesan rind

1. Sauté onions and shallots in olive oil in a heavy dutch oven (or other large soup pot)

2. Add a box of chicken broth and the potatoes and pasta. Let simmer for 5-7 minutes.

3. Add chopped carrots, celery, tomatoes, beans and fresh basil and sage.

4. Let it simmer until the pasta and potatoes are cooked through the carrots and celery are still a bit toothsome. If you have a leftover parmesan rind, throw it in as the soup cooks down to add additional flavor.

5. Stir in kale and let soften for 5-10 minutes. Season to taste. 

6. Serve piping hot in bowls, preferably with some biscuits.