• November 24, 2014

Mouthwatering minestrone verde

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Posted: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 4:30 am

MINESTRONE VERDE

Serves 6 to 8.

Note: From “The Glorious Vegetables of Italy.”

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 1 ounce pancetta, diced, optional
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts, thoroughly washed, halved lengthwise, and sliced thinly, crosswise (about 2 cups)
  • 2 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and then cut crosswise into small wedge-shaped pieces
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 to 7 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 cups tubettini, ditalini or other small soup pasta
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen peas, thawed if frozen
  • 4 handfuls (about 4 ounces) fresh baby spinach leaves
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, optional
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh basil pesto, see recipe below

Put olive oil, pancetta (if using) and leeks in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until olive oil and pancetta begin to sizzle, then lower heat to medium-low and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, until leeks are softened and pancetta is just beginning to turn crisp.

Stir in zucchini and season with salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes, or until zucchini is tender but still holds its shape. Pour in 6 cups of broth and raise the heat to medium-high. Bring broth to a boil and slowly pour in pasta, taking care not to let the broth boil over. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer and cook the pasta for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in peas and spinach and cook until pasta is al dente or even a little bit more tender; cooking time will depend on the shape and brand of pasta you use. Add more broth to thin the soup, if you like.

Remove from the heat and stir in cheese, if using. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls, top with a dollop of pesto — no more than ½ tablespoon — and drizzle a little olive oil over each serving.

Nutrition per serving: Calories, 290; fat, 11 g; saturated fat, 2 g; sodium, 865 mg; carbohydrates, 40 g; protein, 9 g; cholesterol, 3 mg; dietary fiber, 5 g.

FRESH BASIL PESTO

Makes about 1 cup.

Note: From “The Glorious Vegetables of Italy.”

  • 2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts or blanched slivered almonds
  • ½ tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino cheese, or a mix of the two

Put basil, garlic, pine nuts and salt in the work bowl of a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. With the motor running, dribble in olive oil through the feed tube until mixture forms a loose paste. Using a spatula, scrape pesto into a small bowl and stir in cheese. If not using immediately, transfer pesto to a small container with a tight-fitting lid and press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface on the pesto to prevent discoloration. Cover the container with the lid and store pesto in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.

To freeze pesto, omit cheese and freeze in a plastic container for up to 6 months. To use, let pesto thaw to room temperature and stir in cheese.

Nutrition per tablespoon: Calories, 82; fat 8, g; saturated fat, 2 g; sodium, 112 mg; carbohydrates, 0 g; protein, 2 g; cholesterol, 2 mg; dietary fiber, 0 g.

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