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It’s getting to be that time of the year again. Soups! I love a good soup and minestrone happens to be one of my favorites. It’s basically just vegetable soup with a few beans and a little pasta thrown in for good measure.

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I’ve used leeks and fresh tomatoes paired with a can of tomato sauce this time because that’s what I had on hand. Feel free to use regular onions and canned whole peeled tomatoes instead. I’ve been known to add whichever veggies were in the fridge; cabbage, broccoli, spinach, red bell peppers all would work as well. Let whatever is in abundance at the produce market be your guide.

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Minestrone Soup

  • ¼ cup good quality olive oil
  • 3 leeks, rinsed, drained and thinly sliced (see notes)
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally
  • 2 zucchini squash, cut in half-moon slices
  • 1 yellow squash, cut in half-moon slices
  • 1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes with juice (see notes)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen green beans, cut in 1-2″ pieces
  • 1 14oz can cannelinni beans, dranined and rinsed
  • 4 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1½ cups small pasta, such as mini-shells or orecchitte, cooked according to package directions

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook leeks in oil until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and carrots. Cook until garlic is fragrant and carrots begin to soften, another 2 minutes. Add squashes, tomatoes and green beans. Bring mixture to a boil and cook another 5 minutes. Pour in stock, beans and seasonings. Add a little water if needed. Cover and bring back to a boil. Simmer 15-20 minutes until vegetables are soft. Serve with pasta and parmesan, arugula pesto or basil pesto.

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Arugula Pesto (adapted from Bon Appétit October 2013 edition)

  • 2-3 small tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • zest of 1 lemon or 1 tsp preserved lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • 1 Tble capers
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tble red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tble fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup good quality olive oil

Place tomatoes, lemon zest, garlic, arugula and capers in the bowl of a food processor. Blend until everything is finely chopped. Remove greens to a small bowl. Add breadcrumbs, vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well to form a paste, adding more olive oil if needed. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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Notes:

  • It is imperative that the leeks be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed. Here is the proper way to clean them.
  • I used about 6 campari tomatoes with a 15oz can of tomato sauce instead of the large can of whole peeled tomatoes. I peeled the tomatoes, then removed the core and squished them with my hand over a bowl. If you use the canned whole tomatoes, crush them by hand and remove the core.
  • The original recipe for the arugula pesto is called arugula salsa verde and contains less breadcrumbs and adds ¼ cup parmesan.

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