I’m going to loosely define this as a spring 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 pasta soup that’s usually associated with minestrone (like this winter minestrone).
I used to think of this as an early summer soup, and it would be in many parts of Canada. Here, though, these vegetables come into season around now, in spring, and it’s a welcome change from root vegetables. I wanted to make the most of that with this green minestrone, with all the green veg I could get my hands on.
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! The pesto is what takes this spring minestrone over the top. Best of all, it only takes about fifteen minutes to make.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Vegetable broth: the best you can make or find, as this is a quick soup and needs a good base. There are some excellent store-bought options available.
- Greens: any hardy greens – rucola, kale, chard, etc. can be substituted for the spinach. You can use frozen greens, too, but it’s best to thaw them before adding for this recipe because the amount of time they’d need to thaw might result in overcooked asparagus.
- Add-ins: other green vegetables can be added, like purple sprouting broccoli, snap peas, leeks, whatever you think might be good. Wild garlic pesto makes a great sub for the vegan pesto.
- Beans: broad beans are a nice substitute for the white beans, as are chickpeas.
This is a fifteen minute recipe, so it helps to prepare everything beforehand and have it on hand. Wash and chop your vegetables, make the pesto, and have your broth ready to go.
It’s a vegan recipe, but of course if you eat cheese you could add some hard cheese to the pesto or over the soup. There aren’t great dairy-free options for this so I won’t recommend any.
How to Store
Storage: this is best served fresh, as reheating will overcook some of the vegetables (asparagus). It can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Freezing: while it can be frozen, I don’t recommend it for this soup, as the textures and flavour will deteriorate when thawed.
- Use good broth: use the very best vegetable broth you can get your hands on, as it doesn’t cook for very long to develop that deep flavour that you’ll get in longer cooking soups and stews even with a shoddy broth.
- Choose fresh ingredients: old asparagus that’s been sitting in the back of the vegetable drawer won’t be the best here; use the freshest ingredients you can find. The soup relies on the fresh, bright taste of the vegetables and pesto.
- Season to taste: as always, it’s important to taste the soup before serving and add salt if needed. For this particular recipe, also check the acidity level and see if it needs more lemon.
More Spring Mains
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Spring Green Minestrone
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 small zucchini cut into 2cm pieces (1 1/2 cups)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste
- 1.5 litres vegetable broth
- 150 grams white beans, cooked or canned, rinsed well
- 400 grams asparagus 1 bunch
- 150 grams peas
- 70 grams fresh spinach or other greens
- Juice of a lemon
- 40 grams basil, packed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- Juice of a lemon about 3 tablespoons
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for a couple of minutes, until softened and slightly browned. Add the garlic and zucchini and cook for another minute, then stir in the spices.1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 medium onion, 3 cloves garlic, 2 small zucchini, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Add the vegetable broth and increase the heat to high. Bring the soup to a rolling bowl, then add the beans, asparagus, and peas.1.5 litres vegetable broth, 150 grams white beans, cooked, 400 grams asparagus, 150 grams peas
- Reduce the heat to low-medium and simmer for 4-5 minutes, or until the asparagus is bright green and just tender.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the spinach and lemon juice. Serve hot, topped with pesto.70 grams fresh spinach or other greens, Juice of a lemon
- Place all of the ingredients in a narrow bowl or container and use an immersion blender to mix until smooth. Alternatively, use a small food processor or blender. See dairy free pesto for more uses and substitutions.40 grams basil, packed, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 clove garlic, Juice of a lemon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.
This post was originally shared in June 2016. It has been updated with significant changes and improvements to the recipe, text, and images as of June 2020.