Homemade Minestrone Soup with Ravioli
Do you love minestrone soup? You know the kind that Olive Garden sells. Well this recipe is nothing like the Olive Garden soup – actually IMHO it is 100 times better. Back in the day, due to lack of awareness, Olive Garden used to be our favorite “Italian” food restaurant. But as we “grew up” we realized that there is nothing close to authentic Italian food on Olive garden’s menu. Now this post is not a rant against the restaurant, Olive Garden remains to be the most popular Italian restaurant chain, just not for us. Their minestrone used to be one of Ms. Little A’s favorite and given her craze about the soup, I decide to try making it at home one time. My southern Heritage cookbook (which I wrote about in this post), came with a recipe of minestrone. So that is where I started my minestrone journey.
Now if you know a little bit about this hearty soup, you probably also know that there are as many recipes for minestrone as there are individual pots of it cooked. This is because minestrone is really more of a lively process than a static recipe. This soup is made with fresh seasonal vegetables, and the common ingredients include beans, garlic, onions, celery, and carrots in a broth with tomatoes and aromatic herbs. It is an easy and delicious meal that you can make with a couple of pantry staples and whatever fresh vegetables you happen to have on hand.
For most minestrone soups that I have had in restaurants, there is usually elbow macaroni pasta used and I have used that mostly in the past too. But my observation is that as the soup sits for a day (if you have leftovers), the pasta slowly soaks up all the both from the soup and swells, making the soup actually turn into a pasta with a loose, thin sauce. To overcome this issue, I tried making it with cheese ravioli and viola – a genius solution. Uhmm ..I am trying to be modest here but really – the kids loved it, the pasta did not dry out the broth and all is right in the world friends!
Start with a humble beginning of mirepoix (diced onions, carrots and celery sautéed in olive oil), flavor with garlic, add tomatoes, whatever seasonal vegetables you have, beans of your choice (red kidney or white cannellini), broth of your choice (veggie or chicken) and herbs of your choice. Cook on a simmer for about half an hour, adding the pasta in last 10 minutes of cooking. And there you have it!
Olive oil – 2 tablespoon
Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
White onion – 1 small, diced
Carrots – 2 to 3, peeled and diced
Celery – 1 stalk, diced
Tomatoes – 8 fresh romas, chopped or 2 fresh + 1 can diced tomatoes
Zucchini – 1, cut into 4ths lengthwise and chopped
Vegetable broth – 4 cups
Water – 2 cups
Red kidney beans – 1 (14 ounce) can, rinsed and drained
Fresh rosemary – 1 sprig (optional)
Dried oregano – 1/2 teaspoon
Dried basil – 1 teaspoon
Cheese Ravioli – 10 -12 pieces, frozen
Salt and pepper – to taste
Parmesan cheese – for garnish (optional)
Set a heavy bottomed Dutch oven or stockpot on medium high heat and add oil to it. Once the oil heats up add the mirepoix (diced onions, carrots and celery) along with minced garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables have softened a little bit. Add the rosemary sprig and the tomatoes and continue to sauté for a minute or two. Add the diced zucchini, cover and cook for 5-7 minutes. Take the lid off and add the broth, water and beans along with oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Cover, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium and cook, covered for 20 minutes, adding ravioli in the last 10 minutes of cooking time (using a timer helps to keep track of time).
Check seasoning in the soup, adjust if needed, and serve warm. Garnish with parmesan cheese, if desired. Enjoy!
Love – Vaishali.
Measuring cups and spoons
Knife and chopping board