Dick was down with a bad cold, and that usually means homemade soup in our household. Translation: he needs me to get out of his ‘territory’ so he can rest, so I end up puttering away in the kitchen, which to me is a win-win. On that particular day, the soup depended on what was available in the pantry and fridge, and this soup is the result. It’s hearty….super hearty, and one of those you can pack in a thermos for a special treat after a day of digging in a soon-to-be garden, an early spring hike, or any other activity that requires you to warm up from being out in the elements. Big hunks of colorful vegetables are the base, and then we load on a lot of healthful cannellini beans, a fair amount of carbs with big elbow macaroni, and enough crushed tomatoes and chicken broth to round everything out. We won’t forget to add big dollops of pesto to the top of our bowls for freshness, and let’s not skimp on the butter on those crackers – we earned it.
This soup is really, and absolutely, one of those you can put together with what you can lay your hands on in your own pantry and fridge. Feel free to switch out different types of pasta, varieties of beans, noodles, or vegetables. That’s the thing about soup – it’s really hard to go wrong. This broth gets thickened by adding dry pasta and cooking it once everything else is in there, but beware – pasta is a real broth guzzler. You may need to add more liquid to get it to just the right consistency for you. I like a little punch of herbs before serving, so added some big dollops of pesto from last summer’s garden.
And we must not forget the all-important stone ground crackers with a whole bunch of butter.
Do not panic if your soup isn’t quite right once you first start out. Is it a little to acidic? No worries – add a little sugar (not kidding – this is an old Italian trick when using acidic tomatoes), or a drizzle of agave or honey. Go slow…keep tasting. Is your soup a little ‘flat’ tasting? Again – no need to panic. Try some salt. Try some balsamic vinegar. Or some lemon juice. Try some more herbs, and maybe a few hot pepper flakes. See what I mean? It’s just the soup dance, and you’ll get the hang of it in no time – trust your own palate. Remember: we all taste things differently, so my recipe probably won’t be just right for you, and that’s perfectly natural. Also remember that soup is always better the second day, and even better than that the third day. Everything in there gets a chance to get all buddied up with each other, and the result is always an improvement. Time to get that genius recipe of yours all ladled out into a big old bowl, grab your crackers and pesto…
And dig right on in!!
Happy hearty soup days to all!! Thanks so much for reading today!! xoxoxo
- 1 large white onion, cut into large dice
- 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
- 4-5 large celery ribs, cut on the bias into ½ inch pieces (all the better if you can use the inner leaves too – looks beautiful and delicious too
- 1 large yellow pepper, cut into large dice
- 1-2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil of your choice
- 1, 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (try for Fire Roasted if you can get your hands on them)Up to 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
- 2-3 large cans rinsed and drained cannellini beans (the amount is totally up to you, depending on your fondness for beans. I admit to using even more than this, so feel free if it’s your thing)
- 2 tablespoons dried Italian herb blend of your choice (I use Penzey’s, but feel free to create your own with a combination of marjoram, oregano, thyme and basil. Dried basil is usually pretty wimpy, so make sure yours is worth using. So far I haven’t found one I really like all that much)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups dried (not regular size) large elbow macaroni, or other big pasta of your choice
- ½ cup pesto
- Plenty of good crackers and butter
- In a large soup pot, sauté the onions in oil until softened.
- Add the carrots, celery, and yellow pepper to the pot and stir to mix.
- Season vegetables with salt and pepper.
- Pour in crushed tomatoes and 6 cups chicken broth. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
- Add Italian her blend.
- Cook vegetables until they are tender, then add the cannellini beans and return mixture to a low boil.
- Add the dried pasta, stir and decide whether you need more broth or not – chances are you will. You need enough liquid in there to cook the pasta, and large pasta drinks a ton of liquid so don’t be stingy. Not sure? Just keep checking as the pasta cooks – it will let you know if it needs more liquid. If you run out of stock, it’s fine just to add water. Here’s the thing: some people like a thicker soup than others, so the outcome of this soup will depend on your preference.
- Keep on cooking until the pasta is done to your liking (I will confess to liking soup pasta really soft, not al dente).
- Check for seasoning and you are good to go! Time to serve: Ladle into big bowls, dollop fresh pesto on the top of each bowl, and pass the crackers and butter.
- Have seconds!!