Minestrone...this classic, hearty vegetable and bean soup is truly a meal in a bowl. I love it served with cheese croutons, but omit them for a vegan version.
2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 cup (240 ml) green beans, cut into 1 in (2.5 cm) pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups (960 ml) vegetable broth
1 cup (240 ml) cooked kidney beans
1 cup (240 ml) cooked cannellini beans
1 14 oz (411 g) can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp (10 ml) dried Greek oregano
1 bay leaf
Pinch of fennel seeds, crushed
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup (240 ml) frozen peas
4 thin slices of levain or sourdough bread
1/2 cup (120 ml) grated cheddar cheese
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot; sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and sauté one minute longer.
Add the broth, cooked beans, tomatoes, oregano, bay leaf, fennel seeds and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer gently, partially covered, for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
Stir in the peas, discard the bay leaf and keep warm.
Preheat your broiler. Toast the bread. Place it onto a baking sheet and top each piece with the grated cheese, dividing evenly. Pop under the broil (about 6 in 15 cm from the element) and broil until melted and bubbling.
Ladle the soup into bowls, top with the crouton and serve.
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