Is this time of year glorious or what? It’s finally not so hot, I’ve been able to open the windows a couple of times, and any breeze that come through brings with it a hint of cooler, crisper fall air. The days are still warm, but that peak temperature only last a couple of hours, and the evenings are cool enough to justify some lighter soups.
Let’s not get too far into the fall flow, though. We still have some truly stellar late summer produce to appreciate. I’m looking at you, zucchini and basil. I don’t have a garden, but I know plenty of you do. If social media is any indicator, those gardens are still cranking out zucchini like whoa and you’ve made all the zucchini bread and muffins you can take. You’re looking for something different. Enter this soup.
It’s brimming with healthy, green (thus, verde) goodness from the zucchini, leeks, peas, and spinach. The tortellini makes it hearty enough to fill you up and the pesto and spritz of lemon juice keep it bright and satisfying. I made a couple tweaks to the original to amp up the flavor and keep it vegetarian. (Why do people put chicken broth in a recipe that would otherwise be vegetarian?) If you’re looking for a vegan recipe, white beans would be a great sub for the tortellini and and that bit of parm in the pesto could just as well be nutritional yeast, vegan parm, or even just a bit of extra salt.
The soup makes awesome leftovers for a couple lunches, though I will caution you to store the tortellini separately so it doesn’t disintegrate. You might also want to have a little extra broth on hand. Your call. No matter what, just be sure to enjoy this soup and be thankful for tasty, nourishing food and the changing of the seasons.
Put all that late summer zucchini and basil to good use in this healthy, hearty, vegetarian (or vegan!) minestrone verde soup you’ll want to make over and over again.
Meatless Monday–Minestrone Verde
adapted from Cooking Light, June 2017
1 c. coarsely chopped basil (about 3 bunches)
2 TBSP shredded Parmesan cheese (or vegan sub)
1 TBSP pine nuts or slivered almonds
3 garlic cloves, chopped and divided
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 c. thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only
2 small zucchini, sliced into half moons
4-6 c. vegetable broth
8 oz. refrigerated cheese tortellini AND/OR
2 cans white canellini beans
3 c. coarsely chopped fresh spinach
1 c. frozen green peas, thawed
1 tsp, fresh lemon juice
salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste
- To make the pesto, pulse basil, cheese (or sub), pine nuts, and 1/3 of the garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Stream in half the olive oil and process until fully combined, stopping to scrape down sides of the bowl as needed. Set aside.
- Heat the remaining oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium. Add the leeks and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the zucchini, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add remaining garlic,salt and black pepper to taste, and sauté 1 minute more.
- Add 4-6 c. vegetable broth, depending on your tastes, and increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, then add tortellini and/or beans, let boil one minute, then reduce to a simmer, add the spinach and peas, and cook 5 minutes more until tortellini is tender but still al dente.
- Add in lemon juice, taste, and adjust seasoning.
- To serve, ladle into soup bowls, top with pesto, and add red pepper flakes, if desired.
yield: 4-6 servings