Italian for “the big soup,” minestrone combines a plethora of vegetables — whatever’s in season — with pasta or rice. This one uses zucchini, carrots, chickpeas/kidney beans, tomatoes and pasta of your choice. Healthy and vegetarian- and vegan-friendly, this minestrone is perfect for the cold winter months — or any time of year, really.
Heat the olive oil in a kettle. Add onion, garlic and 1.5 teaspoons of salt. Saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes, then add celery, carrot, oregano, black pepper and basil. Cover and cook over very low heat about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add zucchini, water and tomato puree. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes. Add beans and simmer another 5 minutes. Bring the soup to a gentle boil.
Add pasta, stir and cook until the pasta is tender (according to instructions on the box). Stir in the diced fresh tomatoes, and serve right away, topped with parsley and Parmesan if desired.