Summer Minestrone

On a wet and rainy Sunday, even in summer, a bowl of soup always satisfies.  A minestrone that makes full use of summer squashes and tomatoes is quick and easy to make and a great vehicle for a dollop of basil pesto, should you have any to use up from the fridge or freezer.

This soup can either be made using water or chicken broth.  I happen to have a bag of chicken backs and necks in the freezer, so I’m going to improvise a little chicken stock with some carrots, onion and celery plus a bay leaf, which I’ll simmer for an hour prior to proceeding with the recipe.

The variety of summer squashes that I’m using are as interesting to look at as they are good to eat:  plump round little zucchini with hardly any seeds, plus pale green and yellow varieties of zucchini.  

A potato, peeled and cubed is added, plus some cooked white beans. A peeled chopped tomato and a diced carrot add some color and sweetness.

I also freeze the rinds from the parmigiano, therefore, one will go into my soup (I’ll remove it before serving).  Also in my freezer is a bag of swiss chard stems, all cleaned, chopped and blanched.  I usually use these in frittata, but a soup is also  the perfect opportunity to use up all these precious little odds and ends.

You always end up making more than you set out to, and the leftovers are great at room temperature as well, drizzled with some extra-virgin olive oil.  The soup keeps for at least 5 days in the fridge.

Summer Minestrone

serves 4 – 6

3 qts chicken broth

2 small carrots, coarsely diced

1 stalk celery, coarsely diced

1/2 a medium onion, coarsely diced

1 yukon gold potato, peeled and diced into 3/4″ dice

1 piece of parmigiano rind, rinsed (optional)

4 small zucchini–mixed varieties or all dark green, diced into 3/4″ dice

2 plum tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 links of pre-boiled pork sausage (optional)

stems from a bunch of swiss chard, chopped and pre-boiled for about 10 minutes

15 oz. cooked white beans (may be canned and rinsed)

1/4 lb ditalini pasta

pesto sauce for adding at the table

grated pecorino cheese for sprinkling at the table

salt and pepper to taste

In the broth, simmer the potatoes, onions, celery, carrots and parmigiano rind for about 10 minutes.  Add zucchini, tomatoes and sausage.  Simmer another 7 – 10 minutes.  Add beans at last minute (if using canned) so as not to cause them to become too soft.  In a separate pot of salted water, cook pasta until a minute shy of done.  Add to soup and simmer another couple of minutes.  Serve with a dollop of pesto and plenty of grated pecorino romano.



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