Bargain Meal of the Week, Beans, Frugal Hausfrau, Greens, Italian, Italian sausage, Minestrone, Pasta, Sausage, Soup, Super Easy Meal, Super Healthy, Tomatoes, Tyler Florence, Tyler Florence Hunters Minnesrone
I stole the idea and rough recipe from Tyler Florence, then “healthed it up and frugalized it.” I’ve made it as written before, and believe me, his Hunter’s Minestrone really is the ultimate – the fresh herbs are great when they’re in season and from my garden. The problem is, I normally make soup in the winter, so I’ve flavored it with dried herbs and simmered a bit longer to blend the flavors. If you’ve only had a canned version, or a recipe you didn’t like, consider customizing it to YOUR tastes!
I cannot begin to describe the bounty that is this soup, and it is so easy and takes so little time. By the way, I didn’t even LIKE Minestrone before I made this, now I’m a diehard convert! This recipe makes nearly 24 cups, 12 generous servings, brimming with goodness, so pull out your big pot and plan to freeze some unless you have a crowd! This is truly a healthy meal, a good balance of carbs to protein to fat, and two full servings of varied vegetables all at a very low calorie count. Thanks to Tyler Florence for his method of pureeing veggies – I hide veggies EVERYWHERE now and my family has NO clue!
Tyler served his with Parmesan Toasts and floated them in the soup like croutons. They look wonderful, but I’m watching my carbs and pasta plus bread in the same meal would most definitely push me over the edge…I did however include the directions below.
The cost for this soup was incredibly low for the volume of food it made, $3.87 for 12 servings – primarily because I’ve been shopping the specials and have a well stocked pantry and freezer. Even buying off the shelf at sale prices, you can still make this incredible soup at a budget price. It only tastes better the next day and freezes beautifully, without the pasta.
Recipe: Minestrone, 12 servings, 2 cups each. Cost $3.87
- 8 ounces rigatoni or similar pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces Italian sausage
4 medium carrots, roughly chopped
4 celery ribs, roughly chopped
2 onions, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 quarts low sodium chicken broth
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes, canned
- 2 bay leaves
1 pound cannelini beans, cooked, or (4) 15 oz cans, drained and rinsed. Really, though, use whatever you wish.
2 cups spinach, or any green, torn or sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, or 1/4 cup sliced green onion top
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, optional
coarsely ground black pepper and salt
Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the rigatoni. Cook the rigatoni in the boiling water for 6 minutes; it should be slightly underdone.
In a soup pan, add the sausage and cook, breaking up the sausage with the side of a big spoon until well browned. Chop 1/2 the carrots, celery, and onion in a food processor, almost pureeing them. Remove and chop the other half, leaving them a bit chunky. Add to the saucepan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Add crushed garlic. Crush the herbs in your hand and add to mixture. Cook for about a minute.
Stir in the crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, cannelloni beans, and chicken stock and spinach. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Drain and stir rigatoni into the simmering soup. Add parsley or green onion tops, and the vinegar. Add salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste. Discard the bay leaf.
Note: This soup has tons of flavor, even with the dried herbs, but don’t be dismayed if you taste it before the 25 minutes simmering time; It takes a bit of time for them to blend and flavor the soup. The salt and pepper along with the vinegar make a huge difference, too, at the end. I use about a teaspoon of salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper, I love the bite. If you use dried parsley, reduce the amount by about 1/2 and add in when you put the rest of the dried herbs in the pot. I really suggest adding in fresh parsley or the slices of green onion top – it helps to make the soup taste fresh. Remember, when you taste, that this soup is flavored to allow for the pasta, too.
If you’d like, you can cook the pasta and add to the soup as needed; this helps keep the pasta from soaking up all the broth. I freeze mine without the pasta.
Money and Time Saving Strategies:
For pricing, remember to use your coupon matching sites for your local stores. My favorite is Pocket Your Dollars in my area, but every store has a group of enthusiastic couponers who can point you to the best bargains. Don’t be discouraged if your prices are higher at first – just keep shopping the best sales and follow the strategies and you’ll get there! Check under Saving on Basic Ingredients for more detailed information and storage hints – use <control f> to search each page to bring you to the item you want to check out.
This simple, easy soup is in itself a time saver: it makes so much, and freezes magnificently, especially without the pasta, but you could streamline this soup by preparing batches of the vegetables, herbs and beans ahead of time, labelling and freezing, so they’re at the ready when you wish to make it. Total cooking time about 40 minutes – prep time about 15.
- Pasta: Look for it with coupons on sale, I often get for no cost, especially the better quality pastas that are in stiff competition.
- Chicken Broth: I make my own, with items I’d normally throw away. I suppose I should count the cost of running the burner on a very low flame, but I’m just going to call it free.
- Parsley or Green Onion: I grow my own parsley on the windowsill in the winter, and pray I can keep it alive till spring. Green onions I grow perpetually in a glass in my window: I just trim off the tops and they regrow. They’ll play out every two to three of months, and I wait for a special and buy another bunch. I’ll count this as free.
- Tomatoes: Do go on sale, generally at least once a quarter – I don’t like to pay more than $1.00 for a 28 oz. can, but now and then I’ll get for less or even free with coupons. Watch for specials – buy so many cans, get $ back on a future grocery purchase. I’m still working on my free cans, so my cost was zero.
- Italian Sausage: Look for great specials in the fall. I last bought at $2.88 for 20 ounces. I used 12 here and put the rest back in the freezer. Yes, I AM that cheap! There are lots of coupons for packaged sausage. Cost: $1.73.
- Olive Oil: I look for a price of about 8 cents an ounce, and I’m estimating I used about a 1/2 to one ounce. Use coupons, watch for buy one, get one free specials and look for coupons for pasta on Olive Oil and for Olive Oil on the pastas. I’ll call it 8 cents.
- Garlic: Cheaper in the fall. Last head was .56 cents, 4 cloves is about a fourth. I just couldn’t bring myself to cut the head in half and simmer 1/2 in the chicken broth – I really had no use for the other half, and it seemed so wasteful. Cost: 14 cents.
- Herbs: The original recipe called for all fresh: I made appropriate substitutions. Cost 5 cents.
- Beans: I used navy, for a cost of 99 cents. Beans are often on special and often unadvertised. Always look for beans and dried peas after any major holiday – stock up for the year if you see a great price, and use them more often – super healthy and super inexpensive.
- Onions: I used two, on sale for 98 cents for three pounds. I’ll use two at about 14 ounces, cost: 25 cents.
- Celery: I used four stalks, 98 cents a sleeve, it worked out to about 20 cents.
- Carrots: 48 cents a pound, I used four, about a third. 16 cents.
- Spinach: I used about 1/4 of a 99 cent bunch: cost about 25 cents. Kale is very good in a soup like this.
- Red Wine Vinegar: I’ll call this 2 cents.
Nutrition:Per Serving: 319 Calories; 12g Fat (32.9% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 22mg Cholesterol; 669mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1 1/2 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.
Put Your Own Spin on It:
- I suggest making the soup once, then next time adjust it to your personalized taste.
- Speaking of flavor, this soup would be a great candidate to use your leftover parmesan rinds. This soup is great with cabbage thrown in and no pasta!
- It’s also a great recipient for leftover veggies: pieces of squash, or beans, etc.
- Minestrone is made many different ways in Italy, and the flavors tend to follow the seasons and the location it’s made in – use your good judgement, however. Use your favorite beans or combinations for a nice change.
Parmesan Toasts: Tyler Florence served his soup with parmesan toasts floating in the bowls: Preheat the broiler. Put baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano and broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and float a couple of the baguette slices on top. Very similar to the way my family makes Parmesan Toast.
What can I say? Three generous meals for my family; one to eat now, one to eat later, and one to freeze, very healthy, time conscious and wonderful. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention, cheap, cheap, cheap…and all made with ingredients I pretty much have on hand. I can throw this together from what I have in my freezer, fridge and pantry – and NOT go outside in the freezing cold.