I love soup! Unabashedly, uncontrollably, undeniably – I love it. Soup is amazing any time of year, any day of the week, and for any meal of the day. It’s a great way to fill your tummy with piles and piles of veggies, without losing any of the nutrients to the boiling process, since they just hang out in the broth! And minestrone is one of those soups that is super easy, super satisfying, and super versatile. I make this soup at all times of the year, and the greatest thing about it is that I can change it up based on the season, the temperature outside, or what I happen to have in the fridge. You can literally change any of the vegetables in here, or change the proportion of each one, to suit your own tastes. Just keep in mind the cooking times – harder vegetables like carrots or broccoli will need longer to simmer than softer ones like mushrooms.
This is my lightened up summer version. In the winter I usually add in some potatoes and/or gluten free pasta to give it a little more heft. In the summer this is just perfect. If you aren’t constrained by a gluten sensitivity, I highly recommend cooking up some barley and adding it in there near the end (if you cook it right in the soup, you’ll have to add a lot more stock).
Minestrone with White Beans and Pesto
~ Gluten free, grain free, vegetarian, vegan option ~
For the soup
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 leek, sliced
- 1 onion, diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 stalks celery, leafy bits removed and reserved
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 head of broccoli, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 6 cremini mushrooms, diced
- 2 cups collard greens or kale, stems removed, chopped
- 8-10 cups no sodium added vegetable stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme, or 2 tsp. dried
- 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup tomato sauce, or 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 can white beans
- 4 tbsp. pesto (recipe below)
- hot sauce (optional)
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the pesto
- 1 cup loosely packed kale leaves
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup cashews
- 1/4 cup oil-packed sundried tomatoes, rinsed
- 1 garlic clove
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (optional)
For the pesto
- Put the garlic on your food processor and pulse until minced.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and blend, scraping down the sides as necessary, until a thick paste forms. This makes more than you need for the soup, so reserve 4 tbsp. and keep the rest for sandwiches, veggie burgers, or something else equally awesome.
For the soup
- Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a large stock pot.
- Add the onion and leek and cook until soft, about 6 minutes.
- To save time, chop your celery, carrot, broccoli, and garlic while they are cooking. Also start heating up your stock in another pot now. It should be boiling, or at least hot, when you add it to the soup pot.
- Add the celery, carrots, broccoli, and garlic, and cook uncovered for another 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the hot stock, bay leaves, tomato sauce, hot sauce (if using) and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil (this should be very quick if your stock is already hot) and reduce to low. Simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes.
- Add the zucchini, mushrooms, and collard greens, along with the fresh thyme and parsley, and your reserved celery leaves. These will add wonderful flavour to the stock. Cook for another 6 minutes.
- Add the white beans and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Add the pesto, adjust your seasoning, and turn off the stove. Let soup sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.
- You may need to adjust your cooking times for the vegetables depending on how small you’ve chopped everything. Smaller pieces will cook faster than big chunks. Bother are great, but just keep an eye on things to make sure nothing starts to look soggy.
- It’s absolutely not necessary to use the pesto recipe I’ve given here. I usually just throw in whatever pesto I have on hand, but since there was none in the fridge, I whipped one up using whatever ingredients I already had in stock. And it was pretty tasty, so I’ve included it here for you! It tastes just as good without the cheese, but since I would normally add some parmesan to this soup anyway, it’s in there. Feel free to omit to make this recipe vegan. Some nutritional yeast would probably serve the same function, though I haven’t tried that yet. If you do, send me a message and tell me how it went!