Italian Minestrone Soup

Makes 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chopped cabbage
1 large carrot, chopped
1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 small can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
5 cups chicken broth
1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 cup cooked elbow macaroni, drained (cook 1/2 cup dry noodles to equal 1 cup cooked)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
5 shakes of cayenne
optional: 1 lb. browned sweet Italian sausage or ground beef
garnish: additional grated Parmesan cheese

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Directions:

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the celery, onion and garlic until tender. Add cabbage and carrots; cook and stir until crisp-tender. Stir in tomatoes, sauce, paste and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; stir in beans, parsley, basil and oregano. If using meat, add the already cooked and browned sausage or beef now. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Just before serving, stir in cooked macaroni noodles and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add five shakes of cayenne pepper. Top each serving with additional Parmesan cheese.

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