This meal was made entirely with food we already had in the house.
Well, that sounds weird. Of course it was. What I mean is, we hadn't planned on this recipe, but we just happened to have ingredients on hand that needed using.
You can call it minestrone if you want (and it's a fairly close approximation of the never-too-purist Italian recipe). Cranky likes to call it "Cream of Bottom of the Refrigerator Soup."
I started with a tub of frozen vegetable broth — and that was a don't-waste project, too; I had salvaged veg trimmings, herbs, bits of produce that were on the brink of less-than-fabulous, stewing it all in water with the addition of some lentils and dried shiitakes for depth, before straining and freezing. This particular tub was dated June 2005. I almost always have tubs of veggie broth in the freezer.
Then I sauteed some diced onion in oil in a Dutch oven, salting from the get-go. Dumped the frozen broth in to melt. Added (this is the good part; pay attention) some chopped ribs of collard leaves. The collards had been used in a previous greens dish, but the reserved (uncooked, as yet) sliced ribs have a fantastic flavor and texture of their own; think of them as celery on steroids. Along with the collard ribs, a handful of lentils. Some dried pasta (smallish, if you have it). A little later on, I added chopped carrots, potato and hacked green beans. (I would have thrown in that bit of cabbage out of the crisper drawer, but I'm saving it for a soup made with potatoes, cooked in leftover corned-beef-cooking water from St. Patrick's Day — March 17th! — in a couple of days, maybe with some of our leftover Kentucky ham.) Finished it off with some leftover homemade tomato sauce that still had shreds of cheese, from the pasta dish it was stolen from.
Taste for salt. Eat.