I'm going to loosely define this as minestrone. An Italian friend once told me that it's not minestrone unless your spoon can stand up in it (bleurgh) and this is definitely not that kind of soup. It's also not the tomato, bean, and noodle soup that's usually associated with minestrone. I know it's technically summer now, but since I just had the first tiny berry from my strawberry plants last night, it feels like spring. All the vegetables are tender green ones and all the fruits are berries, so this is early summer, not late summer, tomato time.
This post is a bit exciting for me because it features some of my new earthenware ceramics. Unfortunately, because it was my first time around with earthenware, a bunch of my stuff broke and some didn't glaze quite properly. Earthenware is a type of pottery that's fired at a lower temperature than something like porcelain or stoneware, and it's a little more fragile. I only found out after everything had been fired that throwing really thin walled, fine pieces isn't really great for earthenware. A bunch of my bowls ended up with huge cracks from the stress of the glaze pulling tight on the clay and the thinness of the clay wall. I think I'll try porcelain next. (If that was all greek to you, I'm sorry.)
This soup is very light and fresh and it tastes green. Do you know what I mean? It's definitely a summer soup, and perfect for those cooler days that we get every once in a while during the summer months. Today is not one of those days, but when I made this soup it wasn't 30C and about to storm. I don't even care, I'd make it again today and sweat through it. It's so good.
All the best vegetables of the season have been included in this recipe, and best of all, it only takes about fifteen minutes to make! Please use the very best vegetable stock you can get your hands on, as it doesn't cook for very long to develop that flavour. The vegetables stay really bright tasting because of the very short cooking time, and the colour is vibrant. Topping it with pesto is not optional, ha. The pesto is what takes this soup over the top.
Oh, remember Milo, and the friend who was going to adopt him? He's gone to someone else now, I have no idea who, but the friend's husband brought home a little kitten! He was a complete surprise and is the quietest, chubbiest little kitten I've ever seen. I guess he grew up on a farm around here but he's very tame. I'm so happy they finally have a pet. She has three children and I think kids need a pet around (this is coming from someone who always had at least two cats and two dogs growing up, though).
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
400 grams asparagus (a handful), cut about 5 cm in length
2 small zucchinis/courgettes or about 1 1/2 cup chopped
1 1/2 cups large white beans, or a 400 ml can, rinsed well*
6 cups vegetable stock*
3 cups spinach
1 cup peas
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes, or to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste
Juice of a lemon
Heat a large pot over medium heat with a tablespoon of oil*. Once the pot is hot, add the onions and sauté for a minute or two, until the onions soften and begin to brown slightly. Add the garlic, zucchini, asparagus, and beans. Cook for just a few moments, until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the vegetable stock and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for about five minutes, or until the asparagus is just starting to get tender. It will cook a little bit more, so don't leave it too long. Stir in the spinach, peas, and lemon juice. Turn off the heat and let the spinach wilt and the peas heat through. Taste the soup once more and add any more salt and pepper as needed.
For the pesto:
40 grams basil (one bunch)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
Juice of a lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Add everything to a food processor or grind it in a mortar and pestle. Mix until very smooth. Top each bowl of soup with a spoonful of pesto and serve hot.
1. You can use small white beans if you prefer, or even cooked french lentils for an extra green soup.
2. Again, use the absolute best tasting vegetable stock you can find for this recipe, or better yet, make it yourself!
3. I generally cook with avocado oil.