Summer Minestrone Soup

We…have a lot of produce. Like, a lot a lot.

summer vegetables
One afternoon’s harvest. Whew!

I think I said it before, but not only are we growing a lot of our vegetables, but we’re also part of a mini-CSA through a friend, so we’re weekly struggling (in the best possible way!) to figure out what to do with nature’s bounty. Somewhat thankfully, it appears that our cucumber harvest is nearing its end, so we’re not inundated with delightful juicy fruits nearly as much these days. Plus, I’m learning to pickle (and will post about said pickling very soon), so that curbs a lot of the fruit. Also, we have friends who like cucumbers. They help a lot.

But one food that’s a great way to use a plethora of vegetables at any time of the year is minestrone soup. I’m pretty sure its origins are for just that – using the vegetables that one has on hand. This means that you can make a very different minestrone in July than you would in the dead of January, and still have very tasty results. In fact, I’ll make a pact with myself and you: I’ll post our summer version here, and make another in the winter for comparison. Easy. Done. Errrr, will be done.

Like other improvised recipes, this soup is about proportions of one type or another, as well as your own personal tastes. So, for example, if you really like a particular vegetable over another, use more of it. Many recipes call for bacon or pancetta, and if I had any at the time I made this, I would’ve added some. I used bacon fat instead. If, like me, you really like beans and want more protein in your soup, it’s okay to add more than the standard amount. Your soup won’t explode. Probably.

For this particular version, I used purple potatoes, yellow squash, banana peppers, and a combination of chickpeas and pinto beans. I didn’t have celery or carrots on hand, so I didn’t include them. It’s okay. I survived.

minestrone
Starting the soup with some bacon fat, onions, and peppers.
minestrone
And adding some purple potatoes, which look like meat cubes in this lighting. Ah, well.
minestrone
The (almost) finished product, minus the beans and squash. That’s an herb packet in the middle I made with a teabag. Yes, I forgot to photograph the final product, because I was hungry.

This soup goes fabulously with some homemade sourdough *wink wink nudge nudge* as well as any sort of homemade bread. (Some people would say “crusty bread,” but I hate that word so much that I can’t bring myself to say it properly.)

Ahem. Anyway. Onwards to soup!

Summer Minestrone Soup

You will need:

  • 4-5 c stock (vegetable, chicken, or whatever you have, preferably homemade)
  • 2-4 tbsp oil or reserved bacon fat
  • 1-2 lbs tomatoes, chopped and seeded (you can also use canned here)
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 c)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 c carrot, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 c celery, diced (optional)
  • 2-3 c firm vegetables, such as potatoes, peppers, or winter squash
  • 2-3 c water-rich vegetables, such as summer squash
  • 1-2 c cooked beans, such as chickpeas, pinto beans, white beans, or black beans
  • 1 c dried short pasta, such as ditalini (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 c fresh herbs (such as basil, thyme, oregano, or others) or 1-2 tbsp dried herbs

Directions:

  1. Heat 2 tbsp of fat or oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. When the fat is hot, add onion, celery, and carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and softened, about 5 minutes. (You can also do what I did and add your banana peppers after your onion. Mmmm.)
  2. Add garlic and firm vegetables to pot, add salt to taste, and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add tomatoes, herbs, and stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a steady simmer until veggies have softened, about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add water-rich vegetables and beans to the pot, and cook for another 10-15 minutes. If adding pasta, add it in the last 7-10 minutes of this step. Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Turn off heat. Allow to sit for about 10-20 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld. The soup will be even better the next day. Enjoy!

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