I took a trip to the farmers’ market this week and the bounty piled upon the vendors’ tables was a feast for the eyes.  There was such diversity in their offerings: beautiful baked goods, hand-raised meats, fresh eggs, organic soaps and lotions, hand-crafted jewelry, and clothing… There was almost no end to the variety of items available.  Probably my favorite, though, was the rainbow of brightly colored vegetables.  Tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, summer squash, green beans, bell peppers, and lush herbs called to me from the booths.  I was so inspired, I knew I had to take advantage of the summer haul, and I couldn’t resist snatching up a bunch of these colorful gems for this week’s recipe.  With my armload of produce, I made a beautiful pot of summer minestrone.  This is soup works great with whatever you may have in your garden or farmers’ market and is practically fail-proof.

Here’s what I used:

  • 3-4 T. olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, cut into bite-sized pieces of your choice; I chose half-moons
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, sliced into ¼ to ½-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • About 8 c. chicken stock (or vegetable), you’ll need more or less depending on the size of your veggies
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (you can also use fresh)
  • 1 handful each of green and wax beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces of your choice; I chose half-moons
  • 1 summer squash, cut into bite-sized pieces of your choice; I chose half-moons
  • 8 leaves of kale, destemmed and cut into thin strips
  • 1 can white kidney beans
  • 1 T. fresh oregano leaves, minced
  • 10-15 fresh basil leaves, cut chiffonade or minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 c. ditalini or other small pasta
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese for topping, optional

Once all of your veggies are prepped, the hardest part is over.  Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven and add the onion, celery, carrot, and bell pepper.  Sauté over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, until the veggies are softened.  Next, add enough broth to cover the veggies by about an inch.  Turn the heat up to high and add the tomatoes, green and wax beans, zucchini and squash, white beans, kale, oregano, basil, and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until the veggies are almost as soft as you like (the carrots will stay hard longest); for me, this was about 15 minutes.  If you want to freeze the soup, do so and add the pasta when you reheat it, otherwise, it’s likely to get overdone and mushy.  If you’re serving right away, add the pasta in the last 10 minutes or so of cooking.  Cook until al dente and remove from the heat.  Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese if you like and dig in!

You might also like Lasagna Soup.

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