Throw all of your summer garden veggies in a big pot, and what do you get? Minestrone! This delicious recipe is a great way to enjoy your garden’s summer bounty…
Although you might not think of a bowl of hot soup when you think of summer, for me, minestrone is the quintessential summer dish. I remember scarfing down bowl after bowl of my mom’s minestrone every summer when the harvest came on strong. We would sweat non-stop in the Arkansas heat, but that never stopped us from asking for another bowl! It may be hot, but it’s still a light dish, packed full of nothing but garden goodness!
The version below varies somewhat from my mom’s, which always contained whatever veggies were ready in the garden at the time. Feel free to substitute whatever you have on hand as well.
My favorite additions are cabbage, green beans, and zucchini, and carrots, tomatoes, and potatoes are also essential ingredients for me. And of course, for the Italians among us, plenty of garlic, onions, basil, and a couple of handfuls of pasta! (Orzo, macaroni, or small shells or stars work great.)
You can also freeze the leftovers for future enjoyment. The recipe below makes a huge pot, which is just fine, as it only gets better with time! 🙂
Here’s a delicious take on this classic rustic Italian soup, courtesy of ModernFarmer.com:
Summer Garden Vegetable Minestrone
- Olive oil, as needed
- 7–9 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1–2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 2–3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 5–6 cloves garlic, minced
- 5–7 carrots, roughly chopped
- 1 small winter squash or pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and chopped into large chunks
- 12–14 fingerling potatoes, cut into half moons or rounds, depending on size
- 5–6 leeks, dark greens removed, white and light green parts quartered lengthwise, soaked to remove dirt, and chopped into half moons
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped
- 3–4 green, sweet, or bell peppers, finely chopped
- 3 quarts chicken stock
- 16–18 small turnips, roots and greens chopped separately
- 1–2 zucchini, inner flesh with seeds discarded, outer flesh cut into small cubes
- 16–20 ounces dried fagioli beans or garbanzo beans, cooked
- 16–20 ounces dried cannellini beans, cooked
- 5–10 ounces baby kale, chopped
- 2–3 cups green beans, blanched and chopped
- 2 heads escarole, root ends removed, leaves roughly chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 2 handfuls fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Good-quality extra-virgin olive oil for finishing
Preheat a braiser or other heavy-bottomed pan with a lid over medium-high heat. Generously coat pan with olive oil and add tomatoes, one-fourth of the onions, 2 minced garlic cloves, oregano, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Add another drizzle of oil, cover the pan, and gently simmer for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat a heavy-bottomed enameled pot over medium-high to high heat. Generously coat pot with oil and stir in remaining onions, carrots, winter squash, and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until vegetables soften a bit and a little caramelization develops on bottom of pan, 5–7 minutes.
Stir in remaining garlic, potatoes, leeks, and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until all the liquid has cooked off but vegetables are still al dente, 5–7 minutes.
Stir in fennel and peppers of your choice and season with salt and pepper. Sauté 2–3 minutes, then pour in chicken stock and tomato sauce from the braiser. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, until potatoes are slightly soft, 15–20 minutes. Stir in turnip roots and zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Cover pot and return to a gentle simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add fagioli and cannellini beans, kale, turnip greens, blanched green beans, and salt and pepper to taste. Push ingredients down into the broth without stirring too much, cover pot, and cook for 3–5 minutes. Stir in escarole, cover pot, return to a simmer, and cook for another 3–4 minutes.
Stir in basil, cover pot, and remove from heat. Ladle into bowls, drizzle with some nice olive oil, and serve. Store leftovers in airtight container in refrigerator for a day or two or transfer meal-sized portions to freezer bags, label them, and freeze for a later date.
(Watch the instructional video here…)