In the heat and humidity of summer, a hot, hearty bowl of minestrone soup may not immediately sound like an ideal summertime dish. But believe me when I tell you it can be!
First, we’ll “cheat” a little by using boxed broth and canned beans so you’ll spend minimal time in that hot kitchen.
Next, we’ll load up the soup with all those odds and ends of yummy, fresh summer produce you no doubt have lurking in your kitchen – bell peppers, yellow squash, zucchini squash, fresh corn, fresh tomatoes, green beans, perhaps a fresh sprig or two of basil or parsley. Starting to sound more like a summertime soup, eh?
As a bonus, this recipe makes a lot and it refrigerates and freezes really well, which means you’ll either score a future kitchen-free evening or a few bowls of leftover soup to eat in your overly air-conditioned office at work.
First, we’ll make the base soup … You will need:
- 1 large Onion, chopped
- 3-4 cloves Garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 medium Bell Pepper, any color, diced
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- Two 32 oz. boxes Vegetable Broth, about 2 quarts
- One 32 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes, or two 14-16 oz. cans
- One 14-16 oz. can Beans, rinsed and drained (Dark red kidney beans, light red kidney beans, or white cannelloni beans)
- One teaspoon dried Basil
- One-half teaspoon dried Oregano
- A sprinkle of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Heat the olive oil in your largest stockpot. Once it’s hot, add the onions, garlic, and bell pepper. Saute 3-5 minutes, until the onions are just beginning to turn translucent but the peppers are still tender-crisp.
Next, stir in the broth, canned tomatoes, beans, and dried spices. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for five minutes.
Now’s the fun part – adding the vegetables! Add any or all of these:
- Two medium Yellow Squash, or two medium Zucchini, or one of each. I like to cut my squash into thin coins and then cut each coin into a half moon.
- 2-3 small to medium Tomatoes, diced. (Yes, I know we’ve used crushed tomatoes already, but adding a bit of fresh tomato to the canned tomatoes is one of my favorite tricks for making food taste “fresh.”)
- Fresh uncooked Corn, scraped off of one or two cobs.
- A handful of fresh Green Beans, snipped into lengths small enough not to be too unwieldy to eat with a soup spoon.
- A sprig or two of freshly Basil and/or fresh Parsley, if you should happen to have some growing in your garden or on your windowsill. Chop it small and add no more than a tablespoon.
- Small Pasta Shells. Pasta will grooow after sitting in leftover soup for awhile, so choose the smallest pasta shells you have. Macaroni will work just fine if that’s all you’ve got.
Simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until pasta is tender.
Taste for saltiness. I usually wind up adding at least a teaspoon of salt, but boxed and canned broths can vary greatly in saltiness, so always taste first.
Ladle soup into bowls. Let cool slightly. Eat … and enjoy.