Eat your veggies.
Summer soups do not get enough love. Sure, there is gazpacho or even some retro Vichyssoise if you are feeling French — or in need of some chilled comfort food. But I am not talking about cold soup. I am talking about a nice hot soup in summer that still feels like summer. In other words, I am talking about a good summer vegetable minestrone recipe.
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Minestrone is an Italian peasant soup — often accidentally vegan, at that — made from whatever vegetables are around, stirred with a water broth into a hearty bowlful of soup. Minestrone’s adaptability makes it a staple in my house. I use Alice Waters’s minestrone recipe from The Art of Simple Food as a guide.
In winter, I use winter squash and green beans. In spring, peas and asparagus. But late summer is my favorite time of year to make minestrone. This late summer vegetable minestrone recipe uses the very best summer produce: zucchini or yellow squash, juicy red tomatoes, plus green beans, garlic, carrots, and onion.
This is one of the easiest, and most flexible, soups around. Feel free to adapt it to whatever vegetables you have on hand or like. Serve simply with crusty bread and some good grated pecorino-Romano cheese as a nourishing and delicious lunch or dinner.
Recipe Notes: Summer Minestrone Soup
- Again, consider this recipe a guide. The point is to make it bulky with vegetables and beans. But which vegetables? That’s adaptable. Summer vegetables like yellow summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and green beans are natural choices. But if you are looking to use up a bag of frozen peas or carrots, for example? Go for it. A handful of little potatoes lurking in the crisper drawer? In they go.
- If you want to add a little more heft, you could also add some pulled chicken, or small pasta like ditalini or orzo. White rice would work well, too.
Summer Vegetable Minestrone
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 5 cups water
- 1 13-ounce can cannellini beans, drained
- 8 ounces green beans, cut into 1" pieces
- 2 medium zucchini, diced
- 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 2 large handfuls spinach leaves
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- grated pecorino-Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, to garnish
- Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent and the carrots soften slightly, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes.
- Add the water, green beans, cannellini beans, zucchini, tomatoes, and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Stir in the spinach; it will wilt in the liquid. Taste for seasoning. Remove the thyme stems and bay leaf. Ladle into bowls and serve with grated pecorino-Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, if desired.