Cooking shouldn’t be a chore; it should be a celebration.   

“Any chef knows that the secret to truly great cooking is not any special technique,” says Chef Michael Chiarello, host of the Food Network’s Easy Entertaining With Michael Chiarello and author of several cookbooks, including Michael Chiarello’s Casual Cooking and Napa Stories: Profiles, Reflections and Recipes from the Napa Valley. “To create incredible meals, all you need is high-quality ingredients.”   

Here is one of Chiarello’s newest soup recipes. Serve it with cheese, and pair with a rich Cabernet Sauvignon.   

All of the ingredients should be available at your local natural and organic food store. 

Home-Style Minestrone  

Makes 10 servings (about 1½ cups each)    

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 2 cups finely chopped yellow onions (2 small) 
  • 1 cup diced celery (2 medium stalks) 
  • 1 cup diced carrots (2 medium) 
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or thyme leaves 
  • 1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained 
  • 1½ cups undrained diced tomatoes (half of a 28-oz. can) 
  • 4 cups diced green or yellow zucchini (5 small) 
  • 1 cup uncooked tubetti pasta or other small tube pasta (4 oz.) 
  • 2 cartons (32 oz. each) reduced-sodium chicken broth 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, if desired 
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese 

In 6-quart stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook and stir until garlic begins to brown. Stir in onions, celery and carrots; cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. 

Stir in rosemary, beans, tomatoes, zucchini, pasta and broth; heat to boiling. Reduce heat. 

Cover; simmer about 20 minutes or until pasta is tender. Season with salt and pepper. 

Recipe and photo courtesy of Blackstone Winery and Progresso