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Vegetarian Minestrone for a Crowd

Thanks to the few minutes you'll spend accumulating some browned bits on the bottom of the pot, as well as the parmesan rind you'll toss in, this minestrone has a deep, satisfying savoriness. Serve it with some crusty bread and a bottle of wine for a casual cool-weather get-together, or hoard it for your family. It will keep in the fridge for a week and only gets better. I've written the recipe with all the vegetables already chopped, but in reality I often heat the pot and chop and toss in the ingredients as I go. As long as you tend to work quickly, this is a fine way of doing things that evokes Italian grandmothers and may even help with the browning process.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 8 cups low-salt vegetable stock
  • 24 ounces diced tomatoes*
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 rind of parmesan cheese
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 3 zucchini, diced
  • 16 ounces frozen cut green beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 bunch Lacinato kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 50 fresh basil leaves


  • In a very large lidded pot (I used a 9-quart dutch oven), warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots and sprinkle the salt overtop. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to get tender and there’s plenty of nice browning on the bottom of the pot. Don't rush this step, since the browned bits contribute to the soup's deep flavor.
  • Add the garlic and cook, stirring a couple of times, for a minute or two, until you can really smell the garlic. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for a minute or two more.
  • Pour in the stock and diced tomatoes, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes, and parmesan rind. Stir and scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. (You won’t be able to see them, but you can feel the difference your spoon.) Bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Add the potatoes, zucchini, green beans and canned beans. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add the kale and cook about 10 minutes more, until all the vegetables are tender.
  • Off the heat, tear up the basil leaves and stir in.
  • Ladle into bowls and serve, with grated cheese to pass at the table.
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    Recipe Notes

  • * This is one tetra-pack box of chopped tomatoes, such as Pomi.
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