It finally cooled down over the weekend, after a few days of near one hundred temperatures. Perfect soup weather to be exact; slightly cool with the crispness in the air that screams Fall is around the corner. Minestrone with Parmesan Crisps seemed to be the perfect soup recipe to serve to welcome a new season.
This easy to make minestrone soup recipe is from Maria’s new cookbook Two Peas & Their Pod. I cannot recommend this book enough! I received the book before leaving for vacation and could not wait to get back home and start cooking. Maria was shooting her book with a local photographer in Oakland, and we have the pleasure of having her over for dinner while she was here. Spending time with her, made us appreciate the book even more as she shared stories on the making of it; felt like behind the scenes for us. One of the things I love about this cookbook is how her entire family is involved. While Maria and Josh manage all of the cooking, one knows from the photos included that Caleb and Maxwell are great taste-testers. This, in my opinion, gives the ultimate seal approval for a cookbook geared towards family at home cooking.
Over the past month, I have reached for this cookbook more often than not while I am menu planning. I have also tried out the recipes on my extended family and can confidently say that every single recipe has been fantastic from chocolate chip cookies to buttermilk pancakes, and a lot of savory between. At home, we try to eat a plant-based diet, and the vegetarian recipes have become a welcome change in our kitchen. I seem to struggle with finding new and easy veggie-heavy recipes that do not require pasta. We really love the BBQ Chickpea Quinoa Bowls which reminded me of BBQ chicken salad, and the Black Bean Quinoa Enchilada Bake is a definite favorite that I have made not once but three times the past month.
I love that the recipes in the Two Peas & Their Pod cookbook are easy to make for every home cook as most of the ingredients are probably staples in everyone’s pantry. As well the recipes are family-friendly and there is something for everyone from the vegetarian in your life all the way to the meat lover. Maria is known for her cookie recipes and she does not disappoint the sweet tooth in us with clever dessert options like Mega Monster Cookies. Who can I bake these for as I am dying to try out the recipe?
Back to this Minestrone Soup recipe which is going to be on regular rotation at our home this Fall and Winter. This recipe is a snap to make and I had dinner on the table in less than an hour using easy to find ingredients. It is vegetarian-friendly and loaded with lots of summer and early fall vegetables such as zucchini and fresh green beans. The recipe does call for canned cannellini beans but I used fresh ones that I found at the farmer’s market. Also, it is the first soup recipe that I have snuck zucchini in and Lenny liked it! I did leave out the pasta but plan on adding some to our leftovers which I put into the freezer for when we return home from business trips this month. The Parmesan Crisps are the added bonus to this flavorful soup and are like a savory cookie.
Maria mentions in the recipe that this soup is a canvas for using all sorts of veggies. I cannot wait to try it out over the next few months using more fall and winter veggies. I am thinking something with kabocha squash and kale will be perfect too.
Minestrone with Parmesan Crisps
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup fresh green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces or frozen cut green beans
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 dried bay leaves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cups vegetable broth
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
1 14-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup whole wheat elbow macaroni or gluten-free pasta or regular pasta
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated parmesan cheese – the good stuff
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, green beans, garlic, and bay leaves and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, coating the vegetables.
Add the broth, tomatoes, cannellini beans, pasta, basil thyme, oregano, pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil, and then simmer on low until the vegetables and pasta are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, make the Parmesan Cheese Crisps. Preheat the oven to 400. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a tablespoon to scoop mounds of the grated cheese onto the baking sheet, making sure they are about 2 inches apart. Lightly pat down the cheese mounds with your fingers. Bake for 3 – 6 minutes, until golden and crisp. Let cool.
Taste the soup and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Discard the bay leaves. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve warm with the Parmesan Crisps.
Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month. If you have any crisps left (we ate them all), you can store them in an airtight container for up to 1 week on the counter.