Adapted from Judith Barrett’s Saved by Soup.
Christopher used to prefer Progresso Soups to my soups, especially Minestrone*; his culinary bar has been raised in recent years and now I suspect he finds Progresso Soup as unacceptable as mine.
Judith Barrett notes that “Every region of Italy and practically every town has its own version of what we call minestrone, a chunky vegetable soup, made with typical local ingredients.” While this soup, with basil, zucchini, and spinach captures the “flavors of Liguria…. Best known as the originator of pesto." Make your own version with whatever veggies you have on hand locally whether it be from the CSA farms of Oregon or the farmer’s market in Union Square.
In a heavy 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, heat:
2 t olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
1 large garlic clove [or more to taste], pressed or finely chopped
1 medium-sized carrot, finely chopped
1 rib celery, trimmed and finely chopped
Cook until they begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add:
1 medium-size russet or Idaho potato
peeled [at your discretion, I tend not to] and diced
1 medium-sized zucchini, diced
1 c canned chopped tomatoes and their juices [fresh would be better]
4 c non fat chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade [I usually cheat and used prepared broth]
Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low; partially cover the saucepan, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
¼ c short macaroni such as tubetti or ditalini [I just use “macaroni"]
Cook stirring frequently to prevent the macaroni from sticking to the bottom until it is tender, about 10 minutes. Add:
4 c packed, thoroughly rinsed and roughly chopped fresh spinach leaves
(about 5 oz)
½ c chopped fresh basil leaves
Stir well to combine and cook 5 minutes longer [I just add the spinach, turn off the heat and stir]. Season with:
Salt and pepper to taste
May be served topped with shaved Parmesan.
* VARIATION: For “Progresso style" use: tomatoes, carrots, peas, celery, cut green beans, light red kidney beans, great northern beans, penne, lima beans, spinach, garbanzo beans, garlic, onions, Parmesan cheese, parsley, chicken stock [Although MSG and chicken fat are also on the label I would definitely omit].