I love minestrone. It has a nice, rich flavor, and it always feels like a healthy thing to eat. Whenever I've had too much junk and need some vegetables, I find myself craving minestrone.
I've made some rather fantastic failures in trying to get a good minestrone. Undercooked cabbage, flavorless broth. And then I got a copy of The Best Italian Classics, which has you cook a parmesan rind in the broth and finish it with pesto. And that made all the difference. This is a great soup.
Because I'm utterly incapable of cooking a meal for two people, I can't take seriously directions that include 3/4 C carrots to make soup for six to eight people. I always add a little more of this and a little more of that until suddenly I have a cauldron of food for forty. So be warned--my directions below make a ridiculous amount of soup.
minestrone (adapted from The Best Italian Classics, editors of Cooks Illustrated)
1 small green cabbage, chopped small
2-2.5 lbs baby carrots, chopped
2 lbs green beans, chopped
3 cans stewed tomatoes
6 cans cannellini beans
2 onions, chopped
half bundle of celery, chopped
2 medium zucchinis, chopped
2 bundles spinach leaves, stemmed and cut into strips
24 C water, more as needed
1 wedge parmesan, plus any extra rind available
2 C rice
1 small jar pesto
salt and pepper
Bring water and cheese rind to a boil in a very large pot. Add vegetables and cook till tender. (Because I never prepare mise en place, I heat the water and then just start chopping things and throwing them in, beginning with the vegetables that need to cook longest, such as cabbage and carrots.) Twenty minutes before finishing, add rice. (Wild rice should be added sooner; check directions on the package.) Five minutes before finishing, add beans. Remove pot from heat. Add pesto. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.