Sharing a bowl of hearty soup with friends makes for a convivial, low-stress supper at this busy time of year.

Minestrone (literally “big soup”) is easy to make and eminently adaptable. It gladly accepts just about any ingredient you care to toss in and delivers a satisfying meal in a bowl.

Though delectable as written, the accompanying minestrone recipe is easily adapted to whatever is on hand. No potatoes? Try sweet potatoes, turnips or squash. Kidney, navy or garbanzo beans can replace the cannellini beans. The rind of Parmigiano-Reggiano (never throw one away) gives the soup body and infuses it with a salty, nutty flavor.

Add small pasta to the soup during the last 5 minutes, or try the accompanying rice variation.

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Carole Kotkin is manager of the Ocean Reef Club cooking school and co-author of “Mmmmiami: Tempting Tropical Tastes for Home Cooks Everywhere.” Contact her at