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Vegetarian Minestrone

My oldest daughter is a vegetarian, so visits home can be a challenge and a learning opportunity for the 'head cook'.  On her last visit, I wanted to try something new.  I had read that dried mushrooms ground into a fine powder was one way to add flavor depth to food.  Some refer to this meatiness as Umami.

To test the idea, I made the following Vegetarian Minestrone, using both ground up dried mushrooms and the rind of a chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano in the soup.  The latter is a common trick in Italian minestrone recipes.  You want to use a hearty, full-flavored vegetable stock rather than a broth which can be thin and watery.

The resulting dish was a anonymous success.

Vegetarian Minestrone

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, diced
1 Medium Carrot, peeled and cut into rounds
2 Small Zucchini, ~8", halved and cut into chunks
1 Stalk Celery, cut crosswise into chunks
1   Red Pepper, seeded and diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
 ¾ Cup Diced Green Beans
1 14-fl Oz Can Diced Tomatoes
3 Cups Low Sodium Vegetable Stock
1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
Teaspoons Dried Basil
4 Pieces Dried Porcini Mushrooms, ground fine, about 2 teaspoons
1 Piece Rind from Parmesan Cheese, maybe 3" X 2"
1 19-fl Oz Can Cannelini Beans, or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
 ½ Cup Orzo, or other short pasta like macaroni
    Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Sauté the chopped vegetables, except the green beans, in olive oil for a few minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté one minute more.
  2. Add all of the rest of the ingredients, except the orzo. Add more stock or water if needed. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes
  3. Add the pasta, turn heat up to a gentle boil and cook about 10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.
  4. Remove and discard the cheese rind.
  5. Adjust the seasoning as desired.
  6. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese on the side to garnish.


Mmmmmmmm, love this soup!

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