Mary Anne's Minestrone Soup

On these chilly fall evenings this classic Italian minestrone soup will definitely hit the spot with your family and friends. Plus, it's filled with lots of fresh veggies. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

2 Tablespoons extra virgin first cold-pressed olive oil

2 medium white onions, diced

4 carrots, peeled and diced small

4 celery stalks, diced

8 ounces thinly sliced bacon, diced small

4 garlic cloves, minced

16 ounces baby spinach or kale stems trimmed, coarsely chopped

2-3 russet potatoes, peeled, diced small

2 (14 1/2) ounce cans diced tomatoes

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained, rinsed

4 (14-ounce) cans beef broth

Parmesan cheese rind, about 2 ounces

4 Tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Salt and pepper, to taste

Parmesan cheese, to garnish

Extra-virgin first cold-pressed olive oil, to drizzle on ladled soup

-Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, bacon and garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the spinach (or kale) and potatoes and sauté' for approximately 2 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and rosemary sprigs. Simmer until the spinach (or kale) is wilted, about 10 minutes.

-Meanwhile, blend 1 1/2 cups of the beans with 1/2 cup of the broth in a food processor or blender until almost smooth. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and Parmesan cheese rind to the vegetable mixture. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Stir in the whole beans and Italian parsley. Simmer until the beans are heated through and the soup is thick, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Discard Parmesan rind and rosemary sprigs. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese. (I like to add a splash of olive oil to send the flavors over the top.) Serve with slices of crusty artisan bread and a green salad and you have a wonderfully healthy and delicious meal. Serves 8 to 12.