Classic Minestrone is a thick Italian soup that is sort of a vegetable, bean and pasta soup with Italian seasonings. It can be made meatless or with meat. I like this recipe, because it does include ground chuck or beef so it's a bit heartier. I feed men and men in my house do not think they have eaten without some form of meat involved, but this only uses 1 pound of ground chuck so it stretches a pound of meat pretty far! This minestrone comes together fairly quickly and is ready in an hour, but the leftovers are even better the next day for some reason. Here is what you will need for this soup:
1 lb. ground chuck
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, sliced thin
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 cup carrots, cut in matchsticks
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen mixed vegetables
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans or great northern beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups of beef broth
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning (I used Red Gold)
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 tsp. Greek seasoning (could substitute seasoned salt)
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbs. sugar
1 cup small pasta, cooked al dente and drained (I used ditalini, but elbows would work also)
shredded Parmesan cheese
Brown the ground chuck in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the diced onion, celery and garlic and saute them as the meat browns. Drain any excess grease if your beef was rather fat. Leave a little fat though because it lends flavor to your soup.
Add the carrots, mixed vegetables (still frozen), cannellini or great northern beans, beef broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, water and all of the seasonings and sugar. I add a bit of sugar to almost all tomato based soups, because it helps balance the acid and my family likes the flavor better.
If you substitute seasoned salt for the Greek seasoning, you might want to add a bit more basil and oregano, because Greek seasoning contains some Italian seasoning in it. Just taste it and see if you think it needs more.
Bring this to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. If it becomes too thick, add a cup of water.
Add the cooked pasta just right before serving and after you have removed the soup from the heat or place some pasta in each soup bowl and ladle the soup over it. You do not want the pasta to cook more after added to the soup, because it becomes overcooked and to soft and will absorb the liquid in the soup. Sprinkle each bowl with Parmesan cheese, if desired or let each person garnish their own. This is really good served with these Homemade Breadsticks or Buttery Garlic Knots!