When it’s summer’s high season, and the garden is overflowing with more vegetables than one can reasonably consume, a great way to make use of the bounty is to make minestrone soup.
A few zucchini here, a couple chopped tomatoes there, some beans, grab the lonely leek that’s sitting in the fridge, add some chicken stock, a handful of pasta, and in a few minutes you have summer in a soup.
Minestrone is, by its very nature, a throw-together event. An improvisation. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand.
You can use vegetable or chicken stock. The soup can be thin and focused on the broth, or it can be thick and stew-like.
On a recent trip to Italy, visiting my sweetheart’s Italian relatives, we were served minestrone twice, both times with apologies (“I’m sorry we don’t have anything special for you, only minestrone”), and both times the broth was exquisite, the vegetables perfectly fresh and tender.
To our hosts, the minestrone was everyday home cooking. To us, it was revelatory.
This summer minestrone recipe captures the freshness of the soups we had in Italy. It’s probably a bit thicker, we are serving up more veggies for the broth, but the taste is spot on.
Consider the recipe a guideline, and feel free to play with the amounts or types of vegetables. Make it your improvisation! (And let us know how it goes in the comments.)
Summer Minestrone Soup RecipePrint
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 onion)
- 1/2 cup sliced leeks, white and light green parts only (see How to Clean Leeks), about 1/2 leek
- 1/2 cup diced celery (about one celery rib)
- 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper (about 1/4 of one bell pepper)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbsp)
- 6 cups chicken stock (can use good quality vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (add more salt if using unsalted stock)
- 2 cups large dice zucchini (or other summer squash such as crookneck or pattypan)
- 1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
- 2 roma tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 cup cooked small white beans
- 1/2 cup dry ditalini or any small pasta (omit for gluten-free option)
- Fresh basil for garnish
- Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)
1 Sauté onions, leeks, celery, bell pepper, garlic, in olive oil: Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large, thick-bottomed pot on medium high. Add the diced onion, leeks, celery, and bell pepper.
Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until softened, lowering the heat to medium to prevent browning.
Add the minced garlic and cook for a minute more, until fragrant.
2 Add stock, seasonings, beans, pasta, vegetables, then simmer: Add the chicken stock, bay leaf, thyme, and salt to the pot. Increase heat to bring to a simmer, then add the zucchini, green beans, tomatoes, white beans, and pasta.
Heat to a simmer again and lower the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cook for 10 minutes until the vegetables and the pasta are cooked through.
3 Garnish with basil and Parmesan: Garnish with thinly sliced fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese to serve.
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