Even in the midst of the hot days of summer I look forward to a lovely bowl of soup. Minestrone can be consumed at any time of the year, just change out the vegetables according to the season. One difference between a summer minestrone and a winter one, besides the ingredients, is also the length of time required to cook it. The summer soup necessitates a shorter time to preserve the freshness of the vegetables. Corn and zucchini, for example, don’t hold up well to an hour cooking on the stove. To add to the freshness and to give it summery notes, I drizzle a light pesto oil infused with garlic which perfumes the soup and gives it a deeper dimension. Delicious!
The following recipe is really very easy and quick, and makes good use of all the extra zucchini you may have flowing out of your garden. I prefer to keep the summer minestrone vegetarian. It’s fresher and lighter on the calories, but feel free to include a little pancetta if you like the taste of a little meat in your soup!
1 medium onion diced
3 carrots diced
2-3 medium green zucchini diced
2-3 yellow crookneck zucchini diced
1 8 oz can of tomatoes or 3-4 fresh tomatoes diced
1 8 oz can white cannellini beans drained
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons butter
1-2 tablespoons bouillon powder (optional)
salt to taste (start with 1 tablespoon)
In this version I made earlier this summer, I used freshly-shucked corn off the cob, a handful or so of frozen peas, and added fresh spinach at the very end of cooking. The important thing is to keep the ingredients fresh and the cooking time relatively low to maintain the liveliness and brightness of the flavors. You can add small-sized pasta, but it will absorb some of the liquid and thicken the soup. I think in the version above I threw in a handful of rice. A satisfying meal!
- In a stockpot or soup pot, warm the olive oil and butter until hot. Place the diced onions and cook until translucent. At this point, if you want to add 2-3 slices of thinly sliced pancetta, you can do so and cook until lightly crisp. Add all the other vegetables except the beans and cover with water (about two quarts). Add the bouillon powder/ and or salt. Cook on medium high until the soup begins to boil, then lower the heat to medium low. Cook for approximately 30 minutes, or until the soup begins to thicken and the liquid is reduced. Add the beans and cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally, then turn off the heat. Serve lukewarm in bowls with a drizzle of basil-infused olive oil, a dusting of Parmigiano and slices of rustic bread. This soup improves with standing…and is crazy good the next day.
½ cup olive oil
1 cup fresh basil (or a healthy handful )
1 clove garlic
2-3 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
Place all the ingredients in a blender and give it a whirl until smooth.