We lived in Milan, Italy, for eight years when my children were young. One of my favorite summer dishes was served at a local restaurant in the city. They made a big pot of minestrone in the morning using a bunch of fresh seasonal vegetables. They thickened the soup with rice and then served it at room temperature with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Every time we dined at that restaurant during the summer, I had to order that soup, it was just so good.
After leaving Milan, I always try and make that soup every summer. Sometimes I’ll add rice, other times a small shaped pasta like ditalini, and sometimes add canned beans. Our garden is flourishing, and I have recently harvested green beans, Tuscan kale, zucchini, and summer squash. I usually start all my soups with a soffritto of chopped onion, garlic, carrots, and celery, and this soup is no exception. Once I get that base started, I chop whatever seasonal vegetables and fresh herbs that I have available and add them to the pot. I then add enough water to cover the vegetables along with a can of tomatoes. Simmer the vegetables until tender. Rice, canned beans, or small pasta can be added during the last twenty minutes of cooking. I try to chop all of the vegetables about the same size to ensure that they cook evenly. For me, this soup is like a multivitamin in a bowl. Not only is this soup delicious, but it is very healthy for you too!
To serve, you can spoon this soup over a slice of grilled, crusty Italian bread, top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, or spoon a dollop of basil pesto on top. I serve this soup barely warm so you can enjoy all the wonderful flavors of the fresh vegetables.
Deborah Mele 2020
- 4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Cup Chopped Onion
- 1 Cup Chopped Celery
- 1 Cup Chopped Carrots
- 3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 1 Cup Chopped Zucchini
- 1 Cup Chopped Summer Squash
- 1 Cup Green Beans Cut Into 2-inch Pieces
- 3 Cups Chopped Greens Such As Kale or Swiss Chard
- 1 (28 Ounce) Can Chopped Tomatoes
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 1 Cup Chopped Fresh Herbs (Combination of Basil, Parsley, Thyme, & Oregano Work Well)
- 1 (15 Ounce Can White Beans, Drained) (Or Add 1 Cup Rice or 1 1/2 Cups Ditalini Pasta)
- Basil Pesto
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook, stirring often until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add the zucchini, summer squash, green beans, and greens and the canned tomatoes.
- Season with salt and pepper and stir in the fresh herbs.
- Add just enough water to cover the vegetables plus 2-inches.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes.
- At this time, add the beans and cook 5 minutes.
- Taste soup and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Serve with topping of choice.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 270Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 283mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 8gSugar: 7gProtein: 9g