This is one of my favorite meals in a bowl, brimming with vegetables, pasta, and beans. Pistou, the Provencal basil-and-tomato version of pesto, transforms the humble ingredients into gastronomic gold. This minestrone is ideal as a do-ahead dinner for large groups.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
4 cloves {garlic}, minced
5 cups vegetable stock
1 can (28-ounce) plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with juice
4  small red-skinned potatoes (about 10 oz total), cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 cups)
2 cups chopped green beans in 2-inch lengths (about 8 oz)
2  carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1  zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried {oregano}
1 can (15-ounce) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 ounces spaghetti (3/4-inch bundle), broken into 2-inch pieces
1 can (6-ounce) tomato paste
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried {basil}
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground {pepper}, or to taste
 {salt}, to taste
 thinly shaved Parmesan cheese for garnish
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and half of the minced garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, tomatoes with juice, potatoes, green beans, carrots, zucchini, and oregano. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are almost tender, about 25 minutes.

Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Stir in the cannellini beans and spaghetti. Reduce the heat; cover and cook until the spaghetti is tender, about 12 minutes.

Stir together the tomato paste, parsley, basil, pepper, and the remaining minced garlic; whisk into the soup. Add about 1/2 cup of the soup liquid and stir until smooth. Gently stir this mixture into the soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Ladle into large soup bowls and garnish with Parmesan.

Ease of Preparation: Easy

Preparation Time: 20-25 min

Cook Time: 1 hr

Servings: makes 12 cups

Recipe By: Paulette Mitchell

From:  A Beautiful Bowl of Soup
Used with permission of Chronicle

Chef Suggestions
Substitute other beans, such as kidney beans, pinto beans, or navy beans, for the cannellini beans.

Prepare this soup up to the step of adding the cannellini beans and spaghetti; refrigerate in a covered container for up to 3 days. Just before serving, bring the soup to a boil, add the cannellini beans and spaghetti, and complete according to the recipe. Add more vegetable stock or water to thin as desired.