This is one of those soups that’s different every time, and tastes better the next day. That’s why this recipe is so...random. I think of minestrone as being a vegetarian soup, but you can use broth and/or add meat. Most ingredients are optional. The seasonings, some kind of beans, tomato and pasta are basic.

2 or 3 onions, chopped

2-3 of celery stalks, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 or 3 cloves of garlic

2-3 T olive oil

can of beef broth

1 teaspoon or so each of dried oregano, marjoram & thyme

Swiss chard if you can get it– if not, a handful of fresh spinach

a half package frozen lima beans

A half cup raw zucchini or yellow squash/if already cooked, add last.

Lots of chopped parsley - a half cup or so

1-2 fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped or a can of stewed tomatoes

1/2 can of tomato paste or a can of tomato sauce

1/2 to a cup of pasta shells, ditalini, or any pasta, even spaghetti broken up (added last- so as to not overcook)

1 can kidney or small red beans or any beans

1 can of refried beans (important ingredient- adds flavor and texture)

Sweat the onions, garlic, celery and carrot in a little olive oil or butter. Add limas, stir for a bit, then add some water and/or broth and tomatoes, squash, chard and tomato paste. Simmer for a while to cook the vegetables, adding water as needed, then add the refried beans, stir and add more water if it is getting really thick. Add the beans and any fresh herbs. Simmer some more. Then add pasta. Again, you have to adjust by adding water, so don’t add too much in the beginning. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with lots of fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Note: You can use leftovers in this type of soup. Spagetti, leftover pot roast, chicken, and almost any vegetables.