And to make matters worse for her, she has a raging cold. I can't do anything about her knee, but at least I could make her some soup for dinner last night. I'm sure it didn't do anything for her cold, but a bowl of warm soup at least probably made her feel a bit better, if only temporarily.
There is no set recipe for minestrone. It is peasant food of the first order made from whatever ingredients are on hand. In my case, I started with a can of cranberry beans, a can of diced tomatoes, some carrot, some celery, a half a fennel bulb, a bit of leftover piece of yellow bell pepper, four cloves worth of minced garlic, 3/4 of a leftover red onion, a potato, a sprig of sage, another of thyme, a handful of basil tops, and a wedge of leftover white cabbage, all covered in water and brought to a simmer for a half an hour or so.
Then when we were ready to eat, I brought it back to the boil and added a small bag of pasta (snails), a diced zucchini, and a couple handfuls of chiffonaded spinach. As soon as the pasta was done, we ate.
I like to have some contrast in my soup, with the preponderance of vegetables well cooked, but some such as the zucchini and spinach added just long enough to so that they retain their color and texture.