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Dharma Kitchen


Makeshift Minestrone

Carrie H

It's been a tough couple months here in the Dharma Kitchen—you may have noticed I've posted less frequently than usual. I've been dealing with insomnia and anxiety issues that have been kind of a full-time job. I would like to write more about that at some point, but today is not the day for such explorations.

Because insomnia completely sucks the prana out of you and puts you straight into minimalist survival mode, I've been in survivalist cooking mode around here. I've been challenged lately by both a stunning lack of time for proper grocery shopping and severe lack of inspiration for cooking and sharing blog-worthy things. The struggle is real, folks but I am working through it and the end is in sight. 

Sensing, perhaps, my desperation behind the scenes, Desmond has been getting these cookbooks out of the library at school. Two weeks ago it was Italian; last week it was Indian. Today, he brought home a baking one. The Italian book had a minestrone recipe in it, which reminded me that I hardly ever make it, but it's so good and so rewarding when done well. I'm not sure exactly what's fueling his spate of cookbook reading, but I'll take it. The kid loves to eat and is pretty adventurous. 

Frozen green beans, fresh garlic, garbanzo beans. Makeshift minestrone is on the way!

Frozen green beans, fresh garlic, garbanzo beans. Makeshift minestrone is on the way!

This minestrone exceeded all of our expectations and everyone went back for seconds. I pulled the green beans, peas and chickpeas out of the freezer (I cook them in batches and freeze them), along with plum tomatoes from the summer that I roasted and froze . You could easily substitute one can of diced tomatoes, with their juices. Traditionally, this recipe also asks for celery along with the carrot and onion, but I didn't have celery; additionally, it calls for grated Parm on top, but I only had Asiago. We ended up preferring its sharp taste. 


  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 T. olive oil or butter
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 4-6 cups stock or water (add more if you aren't using canned tomatoes)
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups tomatoes, canned or otherwise
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 cup frozen green beans
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Asiago or Parmesan cheese for garnish


Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a stockpot and add the onions. Saute until they're translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add the carrots and cook for an additional 2 minutes or so.

Add the garlic and oregano, turn the heat down briefly so the garlic does not burn; you want it to be fragrant. Add the stock or water, the elbow macaroni, tomatoes and chickpeas. Bring it back to a boil, reduce the temperature, cover and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, until the pasta has cooked. Finally, add the frozen green beans and peas, and heat through for a few minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Portion into four bowls and grate some fresh Asiago or Parmesan over the top. 

Serves: 6-8

Makeshift minestrone! Topped with Asiago.

Makeshift minestrone! Topped with Asiago.