It’s Almost Spring Minestrone


2-3 stalks celery (with leaves), sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2-3 carrots, sliced into coins
1 medium purple-top turnip, cubed
2 zucchini, cubed
1 large Russet potato, cubed
1 cup diced green beans (about 1/3 lb)
15 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
15 oz can cannellini beans, drained
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
freshly ground black pepper
3-4 tablespoons pesto (homemade or jarred)
1 cup cooked ditalini pasta*
parmesan for sprinkling


In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, saute the celery, garlic, onions, carrots, turnip, zucchini and potato until the onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes, green beans, beans, and stock. Simmer for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper. Stir in pesto. Divide into bowls, stir in a few tablespoons of noodles and top with a sprinkle of parmesan.

*I cook the pasta separately and store any leftovers in separate containers. If stored together, the pasta absorbs all the broth overnight and makes for a soggy mess. If you are planning to eat all of the soup at once, add the noodles to the pot, not each bowl.

My thoughts:

I’ve always liked minestrone soup. We ate a lot of Progresso minestrone for lunch when I was a kid and it’s still one of my go-tos for when I need a quick lunch and don’t have leftovers to heat up. I recreated that soup eight years ago and haven’t thought of making minestrone myself since.

Then I was reading an Italian cookbook and they had a recipe for a vegetable soup with pesto swirled in. It seemed a lot lighter and less tomato heavy so I thought I’d try to make my own spin on minestrone using what’s in season and available now.

It’s that time in winter when there isn’t much in season but you feel like something lighter and more vegetable packed. Turnips are always great this time of year, as are carrots and celery. Zucchini is one of those vegetables that I feel like are fine to eat in the winter even though they aren’t in season. Unless it is some heirloom variety, the winter supermarket conventional zukes taste about the same as the homegrown. Tomatoes aren’t in season but fire roasted canned ones add a ton of flavor. The pesto was an amazing shortcut to a ton of flavor in the soup. Why have I never done that before? What else can I put pesto in? I had this soup for three days in a row happily!

Serving idea: I had some leftover pesto so we mashed into 1/4 cup softened butter and ton of chopped garlic and some parmesan and spread it on crusty Italian bread to make pesto garlic bread. It only took about 10 minutes.

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