Kelly The Cook Guy
Yes, the recipe as given does lack flavor and is very bland. What I did was to fine chop 4-6 large cloves of garlic to add to the also fine chopped carrots, celery, and onions. These were then sauteed in olive oil (avoiding butter), slowly, until the four ingredients were very brown. Then I doubled, or a bit more, the amount of spices: basil, oregano, parsley, and black pepper. I added also 1/2 large jalapeno chopped very fine. Left out the soy sauce!
The sauteed vegetables with garlic and just water made a nice dark brown, semi-clear stock, that had a subtle taste. Still on the bland side though. However when this was added to the doubled spices and the jalapeno flavor was improved.
It's a matter of tweaking the recipe a bit to get the flavor you want into it. After all it is a vegetarian recipe and vegetables and beans are bland just by themselves.
If you will search for "rustic" or "traditional" minestrone you will find this recipe is very similar. But there are many variations from the basic "rustic".
Some add meat or meat/chicken stock, some do not. Some add spinach or cabbage or green beans, some do not. Some add tomatoes, some do not. I found adding tomatoes changed the color and taste of the basic sauteed "stock" from a nice dark brown to a muddy brown, and so did not add them next time I made the recipe. I did add one whole zucchini though, coarse chopped.
It's a matter of how you want the minestrone to look and taste. I found the dark brown, semi-clear "stock" made by the sauteed, fine chopped four vegetables to be just dandy, and wanted to keep that look and taste and not adulterate it with more added ingredients, except of course the added spices to improve on the blandness. Which they did.