Minestrone is a thick soup that usually includes beans and pasta, as well as myriad other ingredients. This recipe is a simple, tasty soup, ready in little time–as long as you have cooked or canned beans on hand. Of course, most greens can be used here; the total cooking time is not long and the greens retain their integrity. You can add a lot more greens if you like, as much as the broth can take and still be called a soup.

3 or 4 anchovy fillets, or 2 t anchovy paste, optional
1/4 t dried rosemary or 1 t fresh, chopped rosemary; or other herb, optional
4 T olive oil
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
6 c (or so) stemmed and chopped rapini or other greens
5 – 6 c broth
1/2 – 1 c dried elbow or shell macaroni
1 – 1 1/2 c canned (white) beans, drained, rinsed if necessary
salt and pepper, to taste
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
grated Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese, for serving

1. Chop the anchovies and rosemary, if using, into a paste. (Although these two ingredients are optional, they do add a terrific taste boost to the soup.)

2. Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the anchovy paste and garlic. Cook for a minute, until the garlic is fragrant. Don’t let it start to brown. Add the chopped greens, and toss to coat with the oil mixture. Cook until the greens are thoroughly wilted.

3. Check the bottom of the pot to see how much liquid has extruded from the greens. If there’s a fair amount, add the lesser amount of broth. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add macaroni, return to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 7 – 8 minutes, depending on the pasta. Stir in the beans, along with some salt, pepper and optional crushed red pepper flakes. Simmer for another couple of minutes until beans are heated through and the pasta is cooked to your liking.

4. Serve, each bowlful sprinkled generously with cheese.