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(NC)-Minestrone is a thick Italian vegetable soup and is an easy way to feed a gang. Leftovers even taste better the next day. Vary the beans and pasta as desired.
 

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 35 to 40 minutes
 

4 slices pancetta or bacon, diced 

2 tbsp olive oil (optional) 25mL

2 medium onions, diced 2

2 large carrots, coarsely chopped 2

2 celery stalks, sliced 2

2 garlic cloves, minced 2

10 cups chicken broth 2.5 L

1 can (28oz/796 mL) tomatoes 1

1 cup whole wheat macaroni or shells 250 mL

1 lb sliced mushrooms (about 6 cups/1.5 L)500 g

1 tsp Each dried thyme and basil leaves 5 mL

1 ½ tsp dried oregano 7 mL

1 can (19 oz/540 mL) mixed beans*, 1

drained and rinsed

4 cups torn fresh spinach leaves 1 L

1 tsp hot pepper sauce (optional) 5 mL

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese 250 mL

 

In large soup pot cook bacon until fat is rendered (if it is very lean add 1-2 tbsp (15-25 mL) oil. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic; sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add broth, bring to boil and then lower heat; simmer covered for 10-12 minutes or until vegetable are almost tender. Stir in tomatoes, (breaking up with a spoon) macaroni, mushrooms, herbs and beans. Cook covered over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until pasta and mushrooms are cooked. Taste and add hot sauce if desired. Just before serving stir in spinach leaves. Pass Parmesan cheese to sprinkle generously on top.
 

Makes 10 Servings
 

*Mixed beans are a medley of kidney beans, chick peas, romano beans and black eye peas

Variation: Substitute stewed, herbed or diced tomatoes for whole tomatoes.
 

Tips: For easy preparation chop all vegetables in food processor. Make the soup a few days ahead and refrigerate covered or freeze but don't add spinach until it is reheated ready to serve, so that it keeps its colour.
 

Nutritional Information:Per Serving Calories: 224 Protein : 13.4 g Fat: 7.8 g Carbohydrates: 24.9 g Dietary Fibre: 5.3 g
 

For more delicious recipe ideas visit Mushrooms Canada at www.mushrooms.ca.

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