It’s summer in full swing here in Missouri which means hot, hot, hot. Why on earth did I want to make soup last week? Because the markets are full of fresh, local produce. Corn, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and more. I was thinking why not make minestrone with some of these good veggies instead of just in the winter when the zucchini is pretty gnarly-looking? And I recently made a big batch of chicken stock, in the freezer and waiting to be put to good use.
Minestrone is great stuff, any season. I made it in a pretty traditional way — starting with a soffritto of carrots, celery and onion, adding potatoes, chicken stock and tomato, and then some more veggies and pasta and white beans. I also put a piece of Parmesan rind in the pot, adds great depth of flavor.
So I used fresh, local zucchini, tomatoes and red potatoes. I also put in Tuscan kale. That’s how I make it, but I got to thinking I should mix it up in the summer and try sweet corn, green beans and maybe cabbage and/or fennel instead of the kale. Next time I will as I am pretty sure I am going to make another pot soon.
In these dog days of summer, try using all the wonderful vegetables in season for minestrone. Be creative, mix it up, whatever looks best, try. It will be delicious and satisfying, even if it’s a 100º outside. Happy summer!
about 6 servings
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 rib of celery, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 large red or yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
- 6 cups plus 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade (you can use water if you want but I think the soup is a little bland that way, better with chicken or vegetable stock)
- 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
- Piece of good Parmesan cheese rind, about a 2-inch piece
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 bunch of Tuscan kale, stems removed and roughly chopped (or Swiss chard or escarole)
- 1 cup ditalini pasta or other small pasta, like orzo
- 1 cup canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
- Freshly grated Parmesan and olive oil for serving
- Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat.
- Add the chopped carrots, celery and onion and season with a good pinch of salt. Cook and stir occasionally until they start to soften and brown, about 10 minutes or so.
- Add the potatoes, sprinkle on some more salt, and continue cooking and stirring another 5 minutes or so, or until all the vegetables are nicely browned. You should have a good fond on the bottom of your pan, careful it doesn’t burn.
- Add 6 cups of chicken broth and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. This is good stuff you want. Then add the chopped tomatoes and Parmesan rind, a little more salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the zucchini and kale and simmer 5 minutes and then add the pasta and 1 cup chicken stock. Adjust heat to keep a simmer going and cook until the vegetables are tender, another 10 minutes.
- Lastly, add the beans and simmer another 3 or 4 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Ladle into bowls and drizzle with a little good olive oil and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan.
* Adapted from Mark Bittman in Parade magazine, 2012