This one of two really delicious minestrone soups I enjoy making. While this minestrone is made without meat, it is packed with lots of flavor, an abundance of vegetables, plus I added 2 kinds of beans to the soup. My family enjoys this hearty minestrone soup, and I hope yours will too!
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced (about a 2/3 cup)
3/4 cup thinly sliced celery
1-1/2 cups sliced carrots, cut into extremely thin slices
32 ounces reduced sodium chicken broth
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15.5 ounce) can dark red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can great northern beans, drained & rinsed
1-1/2 cups chopped russet potatoes
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
salt (I added a light sprinkle)
black pepper (I added 6 grinds from a pepper mill)
1/2 cup small shell pasta
1 good handful of baby spinach (stems removed, rinsed & patted dry with a paper towel, and torn into small pieces)
Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese, to garnish the soup (optional)
Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large stock-pot over medium to medium-low heat.
Add onion to the pot, and sauté the onion for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes.
Add the garlic, and sauté the garlic for 1 minute.
Add the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pot, plus the celery and carrots, and sauté the vegetables for 2 minutes.
Add the chicken broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, great northern beans, potatoes, chicken bouillon granules, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.
Cover the pot, bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, and simmer the soup covered, for 30 minutes. (I stir the soup once or twice while it's simmering.)
While the soup is simmering, in a small saucepan, add water to it, plus a little bit of vegetable oil, and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring water to a boil, then add the pasta.
Once the water comes to a second boil, which doesn't take long, cook the shells for 8 minutes; stirring the pasta frequently.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain pasta in a colander, and gently rinse it under cold water. Drain well, then set the pasta aside, covered, until it's time to add it to the stock-pot.
After the soup has simmered for 30 minutes, add the cooked pasta and the spinach. Stir the soup, and then ladle the soup in to bowls.
Top each bowl of soup with a bit of the parmesan cheese, if desired.