Minestrone can be anything you want it to be with any vegetables you happen to have on hand. Fresh tomatoes will make it light and brothy, canned tomatoes will make it thicker and heartier. I prefer to cook the pasta before adding it to the soup – it allows for more control over the final consistency.

2 Tbs. (30 ml.) olive oil

1 ½ cups coarsely chopped leeks or white parts of spring onions
1 cup carrot chunks
1 cup fennel bulb chunks

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tomatoes, peeled and diced or 1 15-oz (400 g) can diced tomatoes

1 cup baby turnip chunks or halved radishes

1 quart/1 liter vegetable broth or water

1 large sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
1 ½ cups cooked or fresh white beans
2 cups new potatoes, cut into chunks
2 cups cooked small pasta

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leeks/onions, carrots, and fennel, and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, and cook 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, turnips/radishes, broth/water, thyme, bay leaf, and beans, and season with salt and pepper. Cover, and simmer over medium-low heat 20 minutes. Add the potatoes, and cook 10 minutes more, or until tender. Stir in the pasta and reheat just before serving.

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