There is no reason we can’t enjoy soup in the summer. Sure, it’s hot outside, but your soup doesn’t have to be. In fact, it’s delicious when just barely heated or even at room temperature.
Better yet, this summer minestrone soup is a one-pot meal that comes together quickly. You’ll be able to spend more time outside (where it’s finally warm!) during these gorgeous summer days.
While you’re out there, grab whatever’s fresh from your garden because this recipe uses a lot of it. A summertime expression of a classic minestrone, this dish involves two types of summer squash, basil, tomatoes, pasta, and beans.
Don’t let the abundance of produce fool you, summer minestrone soup is complex and filling, while retaining the freshness of the season.
Let’s make summer minestrone soup
The secret, which I learned from everyone’s best teacher (Mom), is to blend the soup slightly once it’s cooked.
This thickens the broth as the tender vegetables and beans get partially swirled into the broth itself. Instead of a watery base punctuated by sturdy bites of pasta, the end result is texturally balanced.
My first experience with minestrone soup was at an Olive Garden, where I enjoyed it as a dipping mechanism for breadsticks.
With a bit of fresh lemon juice and grated Parmesan cheese added at the end, this bright, flavorful soup doesn’t need buttery breadsticks. However, they certainly wouldn’t hurt.
I chose zucchini and summer squash for this recipe, but you can use any vegetables that are currently taking over your garden or are on sale at Biy Y.
This would be great with green beans instead of zucchini, asparagus in the spring, or root vegetables in the winter.
You can purée the soup as much as you’d like. I prefer to keep the structural integrity of the ingredients in tact so I blend it only slightly, say, 5 seconds or so.
The end result is a colorful soup with a variety of texture to keep your teeth interested until the last slurp.
To serve, top the soup with freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Crank out a few grinds of black pepper and you’re good to go.
Oh, and pass the breadsticks.
This light soup brims with colorful summer vegetables for a simple warm-weather lunch or dinner. The dish comes together quickly, so you can spend more time enjoying long summer days and warm nights.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 large carrot chopped
- 1 celery stalk chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with liquid
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 cups water
- 2 or 3 small zucchini and/or summer squash chopped (about 2 cups total)
- 1.5 cups whole wheat farfalle shells or other short pasta
- 1 15-ounce can kidney beans (or beans of choice) drained and rinsed
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- Freshly grated Parmesan for garnish
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt. Add the garlic and tomato paste, stir together for a minute or two, and stir in the tomatoes and the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer. Stir in 5 cups water, one tablespoon of salt, and return to a simmer. Taste for seasoning (blow on your spoon! It will be HOT!) and adjust as necessary.
Add the zucchini and pasta to the broth and cook 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Stir in kidney beans and simmer for another 2-3 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Grind in some pepper, then taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Remove the bay leaf.
How’s the consistency? Too thick? Add more water and adjust the salt. Too brothy? Place a hand blender in the soup and give it a few buzzes until you’ve got the texture exactly how you like it.
Stir in the basil and fresh lemon juice. Serve with a sprinkling (or a snowfall) of Parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil, and freshly cracked black pepper.
This would be great with green beans instead of zucchini, asparagus in the spring, or even root vegetables in the winter.
You can purée the soup as much as you’d like. If you’d prefer something smoother, just keep the blender going- you’ll eventually get something like a minestrone-flavored tomato soup.