It’s hard to one-up a bowl of minestrone on a cold day. This version involves about 10 minutes of actual prep time and 20-30 minutes of cooking.
1 bag frozen Mediterranean or Italian-style vegetables
1 box frozen chopped spinach
1-2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 1/2 c. water or low-sodium V-8 juice
Dried Italian spices of your choice (I use a prefabbed mix for this)
1 c. dried pasta or 1 package frozen vegan ravioli, tortellini, etc.
3-4 cloves of garlic
Combine the first six ingredients in a big stock pot, bring to a boil and simmer until vegetables are tender. Add pasta and cook as long as package recommends, adding water if necessary. Mince garlic. About a minute before the end of the cooking time, add garlic.
If you are likely to have leftovers, I would STRONGLY recommend cooking the pasta separately, draining it, storing it separately, and just adding a little to the soup as you warm it up. Otherwise, it will sit in the refrigerator, soaking up liquid from the soup, until it turns into a starchy, sludgy mess. Overcooked pasta is one of the most vile substances known to man.
Serve with vegan Parmesan if you can find it; if not, a sprinkle of salt will bring out the flavors.
NOTE: Garlic and onions contain a compound called allicin, which scientists have found to have potent antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal properties, but which breaks down when heated. Adding the garlic at the very end of the cooking time helps preserve both its flavor and its health benefits.