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What’s in a name

November 29, 2010

Minestrone or vegetable, what’s the difference?   That’s what I was wondering as I made this soup, so off I went to my favorite resource for food research, The New Food Lover’s Companion for an answer.  Here’s what I found:

“Minestrone means ‘big soup’ and refers to a thick vegetable soup that generally contains pasta and sometimes peas or beans.  It’s usually topped liberally with grated Parmesan cheese and is hearty enough to be considered a complete meal.”  

Vegetable soup didn’t have a definition.  Maybe that means the name, Vegetable Soup, is self-explanatory.

This soup has pasta, doesn’t have parmesan cheese, has beans and could be considered a meal – if you add bread.  Bread is required with soup, right?  Which is it, minestrone or vegetable soup? 

Roasted Vegetable Soup 

2 zucchini, quartered length-wise, then cut crosswise into ½ – ¾ inch chunks
2 yellow squash or crooked neck squash, quartered length-wise, then cut crosswise into ½ – ¾ inch chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, washed and sliced into 1/2 inch coins
1 medium onion, diced
3 celery stalks, sliced into ½ in slices or a very large dice
8 cups low chicken broth – low sodium is preferred
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed well
1 cup whole green beans, cut into 1 or 1-1/2 pieces
1 (14-1/2 oz) can diced tomatoes, do not drain
1-1/2 cups small shells or ditalini pasta
1 tbsp Better Than Bouillon chicken base (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Fill a medium pot with water, bring to boil and cook pasta until just barely al dente.  Drain, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking and set aside.*

While the pasta is cooking, toss cubed zucchini and yellow squash in the olive oil and a quick sprinkle of kosher salt. Arrange onto two sheet pans and roast in the hot oven for 10 – 12 minutes, or until nicely browned. Remove and set aside.

In a heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots, onions, and celery and stir to cook for 3 minutes. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for ten minutes.

Add cannellini beans and green beans. Cook on low for five minutes. Add canned tomatoes, stir, and cook for an additional five minutes on low heat. Check for seasonings.  If the store bought chicken broth is flat, add the Better than Bouillon at this point.  It really punches up the chicken flavor. 

Add roasted vegetables at the very end.  Stir and simmer for a few minutes to heat through.

To serve, put a nice handful of cooked pasta in the bottom of a soup bowl, ladle vegetables and broth on top. 

*I don’t like mushy pasta in my soups, that’s why I cook them separately and add them at the last minute to each individual soup bowl.  Alternatively you can cook the pasta in the soup.  Just add them at the same time you add the cannellini and green beans.

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