Weeknights are often hectic, starting with commuting home from work, to picking up the kids from school, sports and lets not forget the dreaded homework. I remember those days oh-so-well and my heart goes out to parents that still find time to prepare a fresh meal for dinner. Sometimes super quick meals lack flavor and personality, but this easy 20-Minute Minestrone is absolutely delicious and easy to prepare. The key to putting together a decent quick meal is to keep a pantry with staples that are easy to use and flavorful. Cannellini beans or white beans, chicken broth and diced tomatoes are three essential pantry items I always have on hand.
20-Minute Minestrone with its authentic Italian flavors is great for dinner served with a grilled cheese sandwich or rustic roll. You can always double the recipe for larger families or to enjoy as leftovers the next day or two and it makes a great tailgating soup ladled in a thermos, to enjoy at the big game.
1 fresh fennel bulb
1/2 red onion
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning or a combination of dried oregano, thyme, parsley
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups chicken broth
14 ounces canned diced tomatoes
1 cup canned cannellini beans, washed and drained
1 cup mini shell or macaroni pasta
1/2 cup parmesan cheese + more for sprinkling on top
fresh basil, optional
1. Dice the onion and wash, peel and slice the carrots into 1/4 inch chunks. Wash and slice the fennel into 1/4 inch slices.
2. In a large pot over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the sliced vegetables and saute for 3 minutes. Then, add the Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Continue to cook the vegetables for 2 more minutes.
3. Next, add the chicken broth and stir to combine.
4. Then, add the diced tomatoes, cannellini beans and pasta to the soup.
5. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of hot water and turn the heat to simmer.
6. Place a lid on the pot, leaving a 1-inch gap for steam and cook the soup for 15 minutes.
7. Stir the fresh Parmesan cheese into the soup and ladle into bowls. Top each bowl with a little more Parmesan cheese and some torn basil. Enjoy!