Well, I think it's delectable, anyway. And if you're wondering just what right I have to call it Italian soup, I'm 1/8 Italian through my father's side, and we inherited a lot of family recipes. So yeah, I make homemade facassa bread and real pizza and gnocci (I'd like to make ravioli, but we don't have a pasta roller-- for shame.) Everything that's important. And Minestrone is pretty important; for one thing, it's easy and is essentially just a mish-mash of odd ingredients.
Here's my version. I think it's just as good as Olive Garden's. Yeah, I'm bragging here, but it really is tasty-- even if I'm not putting all the same ingredients into this soup.
1 1/2 cups Tomato juice
1 quart water
~1 2/3 T beef soup base
1 can Italian diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans, drained and washed
1-2 c chopped carrots (you can never have too many)
1 c spinach
1 c fresh green beans (frozen might work too, I guess)
some kind of small pasta. I used bow ties.
ADD all but the last two ingredients to a big pot, let simmer 1 hour. Stir occasionally. Add green beans and pasta and simmer 30 more minutes. Serve.
That's it-- seriously. Now go take the taste of Italy home with you. This fed a family of five and there were still leftovers, but if you want to double it and freeze it go ahead.
And I'd post a picture, but I've already eaten the bowl I heated up for myself last night. If you don't like such thick soups, go ahead and add more broth mixture.