It’s the height of summer and all the fruits of the garden–zucchinis, tomatoes, and greens abound. What to do with all of them? Sometimes, I just look at the entire bounty in my garden and in the farmer’s markets, and lining the grocery store shelves and wonder, “How can I eat it all in one bite?”
Seriously. How can I eat it all in one fell swoop? I’m suffocating under all the tomatoes and summer vegetables!
These days I’m eating my fill of vegetables, as fast as I can: as snacks in their raw form, in salads, and as fillers for frittata and quiche…and soup.
I love a good soup–and though I did not grow up on homemade minestrone, it is a soup I have grown to love, with its savory tomato base and its medley of vegetables and hearty beans and pasta ingredients. You really can eat it ALL in one bite.
Over the years I have come up with my own variation of minestrone, and I don’t think I’m alone in that regard. There is no one perfect recipe for this soup–a friend of mine, a wonderful cook, brought me some soup a few months ago when I was sick and without appetite. Her soup was wonderful, but different from what I would cook. I lapped it up happily, it was delicious.
But first–a pause to admire the beans:
These were beans I picked up at Phipps country Farm, where we went berry picking last month. There is a part of the farm set aside for growing beans, which they then sell in the store–I admired the beans so much I bought two varieties: cranberry (borlotti) and autumn bounty.
The cranberry beans are the tan ones with little dark brown flecks–they sort of look like pinto beans. And the autumn bounty look like palomino horses, with big splotches of burgundy all over the beans’ white bodies. They looked so pretty, they reminded me of candy. (It is a HUGE compliment from this sweet tooth to be described as “candy”–mrmmm).
And here they are–soaking. Remember to soak the beans overnight before using them (if you plan on using the beans for this soup, this is the all-important soaking step).
Okay back to the main thread of soup…
This was a recipe I cobbled together, greatly inspired by tomato provencal soup–I love the orange zest and hot pepper flakes in that recipe, and duly added it to my minestrone.
Additionally, there is a large quantity of vegetables in this soup, so you would do well to prep the vegetables ahead of time, chopping them up as needed, so that when it comes time to cook the soup, things can progress at a calm pace, as opposed to a bunch of sweating and running around chopping things up as you go.
Aside from the prep, this soup is incredibly simple to make–there is a particular order in which to add the vegetables: thicker, more aromatic vegetables first…then the cabbage and kale leaves last.
Recipe follows after the jump…