Minestrone, a thick vegetable soup, is prepared in many delicious varieties but few of them resemble the heavy tomato/pasta soups many of us are used to here. I love to make soup for the family, preparing it in the morning. The flavor develops and there is a hearty meal for lunch or dinner. This meatless recipe is a baseline to work from; you should add your favorite vegetables and make it your own. Be mindful to avery the cut and size of your vegetables so they all stand out. A leftover rind from a piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese adds that important rich flavor usually achieved from a meat stock. You may also stir in some fresh pesto just before serving to add an additional dimension to the soup.

Recipe courtesy of Lucinds's Rustic Italian Kitchen by Lucinda Scala Quinn; photography by Quentin Bacon


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    4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling 1 small head cabbage, cored, outer leaves discarded and thinly sliced
    1 onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups) 16 ounces fresh or canned tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
    3 cloves garlic, minced 2 tablespoons coarse salt
    4 small zucchini, trimmed and quartered lengthwise, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
    3 celery stalks (the tender inner stalks with leaves), sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch slices 1 rind Parmesan cheese (optional)
    1 small head cauliflower, cored, florets removed and separated into bite-sized pieces 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 (15-ounce) can, rinsed and drained
    6 ounces green beans, sliced in 3/4-inch pieces (about 1 cup) Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


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    • 1

      Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the onion and garlic in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini and the celery and keep cooking, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes more. Add another tablespoon of the olive oil and the cauliflower and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, as the vegetables slowly begin to soften. Stir in the green beans, cabbage, and remaining olive oil, and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and 2 cups water and simmer until all of the vegetables are softened, 5 to 8 minutes more.

    • 2

      Add the salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese rind and stir. Add more water if needed for the desired consistency--it should be very thick. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Add the chickpeas and basil sprigs and cook until the chickpeas are heated through, 5 to 6 minutes. Serve in bowls with Parmesan cheese grated over the top, freshly ground pepper and drizzled with olive oil.

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