Garden Bounty MinestroneUser Submitted Recipe
1/2 cup dry white beans (or substitute one can prepared white beans)
1/2 cup dry pink or red beans (or substitute one can prepared pink or red beans)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion,chopped
2 shallots, chopped (if available, you can substitute 1/4 cup cut up leeks or green onions if you like)
6 cloves garlic, chopped
one large carrot: half sliced thin and cut in halves, the other half grated
1/2 green pepper, chopped into small squares
1 stalk of celery, sliced
1 pound italian sausage
1/4 cup fresh basil (or 1 TBl dry)
2 tablespoons fresh oregano (or 2 tsp dry)
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram (or 1/2 tsp dry)
1/4 cup fresh, flat leaf Italian Parsley
1 large can (around 35 oz) crushed or chopped tomatoes in juice, or 4 cups fresh plum tomatoes, chopped in the food processor attachment of your stand mixer
1 quart chicken broth
1 quart beef broth
1 zucchini, sliced thin
1 cup green beens, snapped into 1" pieces
1 cup large elbow macaroni
2 TBL butter
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese for topping
If using dried beans: wash the dried beans and put in a medium pot. Cover with plenty of water. Let stand overnight, or boil for one minute then turn off heat and let stand at least one hour.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high then add the onions, garlic, green pepper, shallots and celery. Cook about 10 -15 minutes until soft. Using a slotted spoon, remove veggies from pot and set aside in a bowl. If using link sausage, squeeze the sausage meat out of the casings into the pot into 1" or so lumps of sausage (or if using bulk sausage, break up into 1" lumps). Cook over medium high heat until sausage has lost all its pink color and is beginning to brown. Return the cooked vegetables to the pot, and add the carrots and the tomatoes. Cook over med-high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, drain the beans and add plenty of fresh water. Heat the beans on high until boiling, then cover and reduce the heat to low (water is boiling gently). Allow beans to cook until almost-soft -- about the time it will take soup to cook!
Also while tomato mixture is cooking: if using fresh herbs, put all of them in the Cuisinart stand mixer's blender attachment (or food processing attachment) with about two cups of one of the broths. Blend until the herbs are in tiny pieces. (If using dried crushed herbs, add directly to the tomato mixture in the pot.) Add the herb broth and all the rest of the chicken and beef broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to medium low (low boil). Cook for about 45 minutes (this is flexible -- it should be until the beans are just shy of being soft enough). Drain the cooked beans and add to the pot. (If using canned beans, add them at this time.) Add the green beans and zucchini as well, bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium and cook for about fifteen minutes.
In the empty pot the dry beans cooked in, melt two tablespoons of butter on medium and add the macaroni. Stir constantly and cook until the macaroni is just beginning to toast slightly - a very light tan.(This helps keep the pasta from disintegrating into the soup.) Add several cups of very hot or boiling water to the pot of pasta and turn up to high. Boil for five minutes, or until the pasta is just slightly undercooked. Drain the pasta. Add to the soup. Cook for about five minutes more, or until the pasta is tender but not falling apart. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve piping hot, with shredded or grated parmesan or romano cheese to be sprinkled on top at the table. Don't forget some Italian or French bread on the side!