Vegetable Minestrone

Course : Vegetables
Serves: 8
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3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 small leeks -- quartered
2 stalks celery -- diced
1 medium onion -- chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic -- minced
2 small zucchini -- quartered, then sliced
1 medium potato -- peeled, then diced
8 cups water
1 cup elbow macaroni -- or shell
8 cups swiss chard leaves -- (2 quarts) chopped
1 can chickpeas -- (16 oz.) drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen green peas -- thawed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup parmesan cheese -- freshly grated
1/4 cup fresh parsley -- or basil chopped

Preparation / Directions:

In a soup pot or large Dutch oven, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, celery, and onions, and season with a bit of salt (about a half-teaspoon). Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, zucchini, and potato. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add the water and remaining teaspoon of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until all the vegetables are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the dry pasta and Swiss chard to the soup and cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes. Add chickpeas and green peas, and continue to simmer until the pasta is cooked to the "al dente" stage. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and drizzle with remaining two tablespoons of olive oil, if desired. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley or basil. Serve immediately.


Nutritional Information:

247 Calories (kcal); 9g Total Fat; (30% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 34g Carbohydrate; 4mg Cholesterol; 610mg Sodium

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