My Minestrone

When I was pregnant with Little Man, I remember craving Olive Garden’s minestrone soup the whole winter. So I came up with this recipe that would curb my craving for so much less than $7.00 a bowl! I forgot about the recipe until yesterday. The craving was back! So we made it for lunch today…soooo yummy. Here it is for your enjoyment:

My Minestrone Soup Recipe

1 tbsp. fat (I use rendered chicken fat from my homemade chicken broth and it gives the soup so much flavor. Like boulion without the MSG. You could use butter or any oil as well.)
4 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
6 cups water
1- 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup cooked diced or shredded chicken
2 cups cooked red beans (can also use white beans)
1/2 tsp.: basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
3-4 tsp. salt (this sounds like a lot but for us it flavors it just right. You may put in two and taste it, then salt to your preference)
2 cups uncooked noodles
1 handful of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
Sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese, optional

In a large soup pot, saute onions in fat until semi translucent over med. heat. Add celery and carrots and saute another 2-3 min. Add garlic and cook another 2 min. stirring periodically. Add in herbs, 2 tsp. salt, red pepper, tomatoes, bay leaf, water and broth. Stir and bring to a low boil. Turn heat down to med. low, cover pot, and simmer 15 min. Add uncooked noodles, beans, and chicken, bring back up to a low boil and cook the additional amount of time for the noodles to be just al dente (it will depend on the type of noodles you choose. We used Barilla Plus penne noodles so I cooked for an additional 10 min.) When noodles have reached al dente, removed pot from heat. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle several tbsp. of chopped spinach over each bowl and sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over that. You can also stir the spinach into the pot of soup at the very end if you want to disguise the greens a bit for picky eaters 🙂

Such a wonderful warm, broth-y soup to enjoy of a cool Fall day!

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