Over the summer, I accumulated a random assortment of vegetables in the larder: a handful of green beans that weren’t enough to make a meal, leftover frozen broccoli from a client recipe project, some sweet corn that I froze LAST summer, a couple of almost-soft new potatoes. What to do? Make clean-out-the-larder minestrone. This super-easy vegetable soup recipe is more a suggestion than a directive. Simply scope out what you have on hand, toss it in a stockpot, simmer for 30 minutes or so, and BAM! Soup.
Really, it’s the perfect fall soup recipe: lighter and fresher-tasting than pureed butternut squash soup (which, don’t get me wrong, I will be making once the weather turns truly frosty). You can add any fresh or frozen vegetable you have on hand or you find at the farmers’ market. Zucchini or yellow squash, butternut squash, any kind of canned bean, okra, snap or shelling beans or limas. Fresh or canned tomatoes. Any kind of pasta; this soup recipe is a great way to use up random half-portion remnants of dried pasta.
Two secrets to making great homemade soup:
1) add a square of Parmesan rind … WHAT? You don’t save those hard rinds from Parmesan cheese? Start doing this, immediately. Cut the rinds into 1-inch-ish pieces stash them in a zip-top freezer bag. Add a piece of Parmesan rind to any soup, sauce or stock, and you’ll add flavor, umami and richness.
And 2) make the soup a day before you plan to serve it. There’s no soup known to mankind that doesn’t improve over time. I made a batch of this easy minestrone on Sunday and plan to have it for lunch all week.
clean-out-the-larder minestrone recipe
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced into slivers
1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
4 cups vegetable broth (preferably homemade) or tomato broth
1 can (drained) chickpeas or white beans
2 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped (or a 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes with juice)
1 generous cup broccoli florets (fresh or frozen), roughly chopped
1 cup green beans (fresh or frozen), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
4 small new potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 Parmesan rind
1 bay leaf
2 generous handsful chopped greens (spinach, kale, Swiss chard)
1/2 cup (ish) uncooked pasta (smashed into pieces if large)
1/2 cup fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
In a big soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers; reduce heat to medium-low and add onion, bell pepper and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add broth, beans, vegetables, Parmesan rind and bay leaf. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a slow simmer and cook, partially covered, until the vegetables start to become tender, about 20 minutes. Add greens and pasta; simmer for 15 minutes more, until pasta is tender. Add parsley. Season well to taste with salt and pepper. Soup improves over a couple of days and freezes well.