Surprisingly enough, yesterday – with an outside temperature of 35 degrees -, I found myself sneezing and coughing all the time. I knew I was about to get sick, and started craving a comforting soup and toasted bread, no matter how hot was outside and how sweaty I’d get right after eating those foods. I had some seasonal veggies sitting on the fridge that would make for a good pot of soup, and it didn’t take me long to get my hands at preparing them (peeling, slicing and all), although I must confess I was about to give up a few times during the process and go for a nap. I’m usually very determined when it comes to satisfy my cravings, and the idea that, in the end, I’d get a huge pot of soup that would make my lunches and dinners for the rest of the week, worked out as the main motivation factor.
I ended up following (although not stricktly) Jamie Oliver’s recipe for a Spring and Summer Minestrone, that I’ve bookmarked from his book Jamie Does. I adapted the recipe to fit what I had on hand, and I guess that’s the spirit of minestrone anyway – use whatever vegetables are in season and that would go well together for a hearty, filling soup. The original recipe for the pesto calls for Parmesan, but as I don’t do cheese, I’ve just ommited this ingredient and had not problems at all. Just bare in mind Parmeasan is quite salty, so use a good pinch of salt in the pesto to work as a substitute and to balance things out.
200 grams carrots
300 grams zucchini
3 garlic cloves
1 large leek
1 large tomato
a bunch of parsley
2 handfuls watercress
1 cup frozen peas
150 grams short pasta
1 small cabbage
2 liters good tasting stock
salt and pepper
for the pesto:
a bunch of basil
60 grams pinenuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 small garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
a pinch of salt
1. Start by preparing the carrots and zucchini: slice each vegetable into quarters, and then slice each quarter into cubes of aproximadetely 0,8 to 1 centimeter thick.
2. Then, thinly slice the leek and garlic cloves.
3. Heat your largest pan on medium heat, add a few glugs of olive oil, the leek, garlic, carrots and zucchini. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes.
4. Roughly chop the tomato, parsley, and watercress. Slice the cabbage into halves, remove the hard core, and finely shred each half. Add the veggies to the pan.
4. Now, add the peas, pour in the stock, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat to low-medium, and let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.
5. To make the pesto, add the basil, pinenuts, garlic cloves, a pinch of salt and the olive oil to a food processor, and pulse everything for 1 minute, or until the mixture starts coming together into a paste, but isn’t totally smooth. Have a taste and adjust the flavors (adding a bit more of one or another) if needed, bearing in mind you want to find a balance between all the ingredients.
6. Divide the soup among deep plates and top each serving with a good tablespoon of pesto. Drizzle over a little olive oil and add some fresh basil leaves.
recipe inspired by Jamie Does, published by Penguin Books