Does anyone love Olive Garden’s minestrone soup or Macaroni Grill’s Bread? I have to confess that I am a pretty frugal person so restaurants don’t get my food dollars very often. I’m always looking for a way to make something I love without actually having to visit the restaurant. I have a recipe for minestrone soup that I tweaked until we had a soup that may have been better than Olive Garden’s. Just maybe. . . I will often use dried beans that I’ve prepared the night before, but if you want to have the soup quickly then the canned beans work just fine.
- 3 T Olive Oil (You can omit this if you want and just sautee’ the veggies in a bit of broth)
- 1 cup finely minced onion
- 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
- 1/2 cup Italian cut green beans
- 4 teaspoons minced garlic (about 3 good sized cloves)
- 4 cups vegetable broth (I either make my own or buy the lowest sodium one I can find)
- 16 oz. bag of dried beans – varieties like kidney, black, pinto, northern, etc.
- 28 ounce can petite diced tomatoes (low sodium)
- 1/2 cup carrot, thinly sliced
- 2 T parsley
- 3 t. oregano
- 2 t. salt
- 1 t pepper (freshly ground if you have it)
- 1 t basil
- dash thyme
- 4 cups hot water
- 4 cups baby spinach (fresh)
- 1 cup pasta (small shells are best)
- Soak and soften dried beans overnight or during the morning.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot.
- Saute onion, garlic, zucchini in oil for about 5 minutes or until onions begin to become see through
- Add broth, tomatoes, softened beans, carrot, hot water, and spices.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 to 60 minutes.
- Add spinach leaves and pasta and cook for about 20 – 30 more minutes.
- If the soup is too thick, add some water as needed.
- Makes 8 servings.
I know that sometimes the thought of yeast breads can be intimidating. Don’t be afraid to try this one – it’s super easy and really hard to mess up. I had a picture of it but I think I deleted it from my camera by accident!
- 1 cup very warm water
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 t sugar
- 1 1/2 t. salt
- 1/2 t Italian seasoning
- 1/4 t. black pepper
- 1 T dried rosemary (crushed – don’t put the sticky things in there without crushing them up!!)
- 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 1/2 t. dry yeast
Directions: (You can do this by hand)
- Put very warm water and olive oil in bowl
- Add smaller amount of flour on top of water
- In separate sections on top of the flour, add salt, sugar, and yeast.
- Mix until a dough begins to form.
- Add seasonings.
- Knead like crazy, adding in additional flour so the dough is soft and elastic and not sticky.
- Allow to rise in the bowl until about doubled – about 1 hour.
- Punch down dough, and place in a loaf pan.
- Allow to rise one more hour.
- Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for about 35 – 40 minutes or until golden brown.
- Enjoy! Makes 1 loaf.
I hope you will try both of these, because they are wonderful and filling, and good for you!! What’s for dinner at your house tonight? Diane