Hearty Minestrone Soup

Bowl with Fabulous Hearty Minestrone Soup  

The rind from Parmigiano cheese adds a lovely flavor and richness to the soup. This recipe works great with other types of beans, greens, vegetables, herbs and broth.  Try kidney beans, Roman beans, navy beans or chickpeas; spinach, kale or cabbage; peas, green beans or potatoes; basil, oregano or parsley; vegetable or beef broth.  Be creative!  And use what's in your pantry...

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1 T. Manestrini Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 T. Manestrini Peperoncino Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 c. chopped onion, about 1/2 of a large onion
1 T. minced garlic, about 2 large cloves
1/2 c. diced celery, 2 stalks
1/2 c. diced carrots
2 qts. chicken broth
1 14 1/2 oz can chopped tomatoes, drained
1 T. tomato paste
1 tsp. salt
4 turns of pepper mill
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 c . diced zucchini
1 1/2 c. escarole, washed and coarseley chopped-about 1/2 head
1 1/2 c. cooked cannellini beans or 1 15 oz. can gently rinsed and drained
Parmigiano Rind
1 c. ditalini or other small pasta

Heat both oils in a heavy pot like Dutch oven, over medium high heat.  Add onion and cook for 1 minute; add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add celery & carrots and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, bay leaves and rosemary and bring to a gentle boil.  Stir gently so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.  Add zucchini, escarole, beans and Parmesan rind and simmer about 15 minutes, occasionally gently stirring. Add ditalini and cook, about 10-12 minutes more until pasta is cooked al dente.  Before serving, remove bay leaves and drizzle some good extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano cheese.