Summer Minestrone Soup Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

Small town living at its best.

Small town living at its best.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve brought you a soup recipe! And while one doesn’t normally think of summer as soup season, but since this one has been cooler than normal with fits and starts of heat (I’m not complaining!), it’s the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the garden’s bounty and make a big pot of minestrone soup.

Longtime readers know I’m a sucker for a good soup. They are easy to make on a Sunday morning and tote to work for the week. Add a small salad, a half sandwich, or a slice of bread with some in-season fruit, and you have a healthy and delicious lunch! And this soup is so good and flavorful! Lots of squashes, green beans, with the flavor of basily and garlicky pesto, it make a delectable lunch or dinner. Plus, it can be easily frozen, so you can have some later on in the month.

This is a free-wheeling recipe, so there are lots of substitutions that you can make based on your own palate. Water or vegetable broth for chicken, gluten-free pasta or none for the ditalini, spinach or chard (which I used) in place of kale, omit additional cheese, and you can even omit the pesto if you don’t have any on hand. I’ve done that and it’s just as good.

As I write this, it is a cloudy and rainy and I’m under a blanket next to the open window as it is windy and cool outside. Just a reminder that this glorious season isn’t forever and cooler days will be coming in the future–with more soup!

minestroneSummer Minestrone Soup
This recipe first appeared in the August 2015 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

A gentle simmer keeps the vegetables in the soup slightly firm, so they maintain their texture during freezing and reheating.

Yield: Serves 8

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced leek, white and light green parts only (about 2 leeks)
1 cup thinly sliced carrot
1 cup thinly sliced celery
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
8 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
1 (14.5-ounce) can unsalted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14.5-ounce) can unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
2 cups chopped yellow squash
2 cups chopped zucchini
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup uncooked ditalini pasta
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5 ounces Lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped
1/4 cup homemade or refrigerated pesto (such as Buitoni)
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)

1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add leek, carrot, celery, and garlic; cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally (do not brown). Add tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add stock and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes.

2. Place 1 cup cannellini beans in a small bowl; mash with a fork. Add mashed beans, remaining cannellini beans, squashes, bell pepper, green beans, pasta, salt, and black pepper to pan. Increase heat to medium; cook 10 minutes. Stir in kale; cook 2 minutes. Place 2 cups soup in each of 8 bowls, or follow freezing instructions. Top each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons pesto and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese.


FREEZE: Cool soup completely. Freeze flat in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag for up to 2 months.

THAW: Microwave soup in bag at MEDIUM (50% power) 5 minutes or until pliable.

REHEAT: Pour soup into a large Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat, partially covered, 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve with pesto and Parmesan cheese.

MVK’s *Like* of the Week: Speaking of Veggies…
veggiesI came across this article, “10 Surprising Ways You Are Making Your Vegetables Less Nutritious” a little while back and thought I wouldn’t find anything new. Well, blow me down, I realized I am actually doing several of these things on this list! I always add garlic and carrots to recipes right after chopping and I sometimes will deleaf the head of lettuce to easily make salads. I thought this had some great tips and information, I hope you find it helpful too!


Farmer’s Market Vegetable Soup

"Red sky in morning, sailors take warning."

“Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.”

It’s been ages since I’ve brought you, and even made, a soup. But the weather is turning to fall and getting cooler, so last weekend it was time to pull out my pot and make a delicious soup of just local vegetables!

Zucchini and summer squash are still plentiful this time of year as are delicious tomatoes. This was one of those chop, add, and stir soups. It doesn’t take a lot of time and is very healthy–and gluten-free for those readers who need it to be!

Helpful Kitchen Tip: I just diced my tomatoes and added to the pot, but doing this, you’ll sometimes get some tomato skin in the soup. I don’t mind that, but if you want to remove the skins before adding them to the soup, just take a sauce pan, fill it with water, and bring it to a boil. With a paring knife, cut out the core and make an “X” on the bottom of the tomato. Add the tomato to the boiling water for less than a minute. Remove it  from the water with a slotted spoon and set on a plate. Take your paring knife and the skins should just slide off. If you want to freeze fresh tomatoes, this is the method to use!

I added a little bit of quinoa to my soup and I thought if want it more on the heartier side, beans and/or leftover chicken would be great additions. While I only used one cup of water because the squash and tomatoes lent some additional liquid, add extra if you need it; I prefer my soups to be less on the “brothy” side.

DSCN0524Farmer’s Market Vegetable Soup with Quinoa
This soup is incredibly versatile; you can use all zucchini or all summer squash if that’s what you have on hand. If you don’t have kale, use spinach or Swiss chard, or leave it out. This made four big servings for lunch.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 zucchini, diced
1 summer squash, diced
1 large tomato or 2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 cup of water or chicken broth
4-5 kale or Swiss chard leaves, chopped (or substitute a cup or two of chopped spinach)
½ cup of quinoa (or beans or chicken or all three, if you prefer)
Parmesan or Romano cheese for sprinkling on top (optional)

1. In a soup pot, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft.

2. Add the zucchini, summer squash, and tomato. Stir and cook. Add the water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let the soup simmer.  Add the kale or spinach leaves. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes on low heat. If needed, add more liquid.

3.  Stir in the quinoa.

4. Add the cheese right before serving, if using.