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Quick Summer Vegetable Minestrone
All Vegetables Work in a Minestrone
The key to a good minestrone are the soffritto (sauteeing of the vegetables with butter or olive oil), medium to low heat and reduction. The longer you cook it, the better the flavors will meld together and yield a fabulous, filling and tasty vegetable stew. You can use as many or as few vegetables as you have at hand. If all you have are canned vegetables, or just two fresh summer vegetables, you should use butter instead of olive oil, for greater flavor. My best advice: make the minestrone your own by putting in all your favorite vegetables! In spring and summer,you should shop at your local farmer's market(s) and see what veggies call out to you!
Farmer's Markets Bring Local Seasonal Vegetables
- 8 cups water
- 2 T olive oil or butter
- broccoli, rinsed and chopped
- zucchini (green), rinsed and cut into small triangles, skin on
- spinach, rinsed well and chopped
- green or red Swiss chard (or both), rinsed well and chopped
- kale, rinsed well and chopped
- collard greens, rinsed well and chopped
- yellow summer squash (yellow zucchini), rinsed and cut into small triangles, skin on
- fresh sugar snap peas, rinsed and shelled
- fresh asparagus, rinsed and chopped
- parmesan cheese, grated and to taste
- sour cream or plain greek yogurt, a dollop or to taste
Fresh Local Zucchini from the Farmer's Market
How To Make the Simplest and Best Minestrone Ever
- Rinse all the vegetables you will be using very well.
- Begin by chopping the thickest vegetables (the ones that will take longer to soften in the olive oil or butter) first. For example, the broccoli and the zucchini or summer squash should be sauteed first. Do not chop them too finely. They will soften and start to fall apart on their own as they are heated in the water or broth; you do not want them to fall apart right at the beginning!
- Once the first vegetables you will be sauteeing are chopped and ready to go, put some olive oil or butter (or a bit of both) into the pot. When using oil, you know you are using enough (based on how many vegetables you will be sauteeing), if the oil (when swirled) covers the bottom of the pot in at least a 1/8-inch layer. Do not worry, though, if you err on the side of caution: you can always add a little more as you sautee the vegetables, as oil or butter tend to heat and melt rather quickly. Put over a low to medium flame (or heat setting, if using an electric stove or cooker).
- If you are using oil, test the temperature by dropping a piece of your chopped vegetable into it. If it sizzles, it is ready for you to add the vegetables to sautee. (You can see the butter melting, so it does not need to be tested in this way; that said, though, be sure not to let the butter turn brown.)
- Add the first set of vegetables to your hot oil or butter and stir. Lower the flame a bit and go back to chopping your next set of vegetables to sautee, such as the broccoli's leaves, the chard or spinach.
- When your first vegetables seem to be softened, add the leaves and the next set of vegetables. You can add the peas now (either shucked from the pod, in the case of snap peas, or pod and all, in the case of snow peas). Note about using mushrooms: slice them, but add them last, as they have a lot of water in them and will poach rather than sautee your other vegetables. Do not be afraid to add a little more oil or butter if you need it. You want the vegetables to soften slowly, rather than stick to the bottom of the pot!
- When all the vegetables are softened, add water, chicken or beef broth, or a combination of both. If you are using canned vegetables or beans, feel free to add the water they were canned in as well! (Note about canned beans: cooking with the water they are packed in usually tends to lead to more flatulence when ingested, however I have not noticed this to be the case when using it in a minestrone.)
- Raise the heat to medium strength and bring the whole to a boil. Allow to simmer for at least ten minutes.
- Serve immediately, with grated parmesan cheese on top. If you make more than what you need for the one lunch or dinner, you can reheat it the next day and it will taste even better! (Note about reheating: it is best not to reheat this in the microwave. Put it back in a pot and put it on a medium flame again. Bring to a boil and allow it to simmer for at least ten to fifteen minutes. The secret in getting a richer taste lies in how long you let it boil and simmer - without, of course, allowing it to burn! To prevent burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot, add more water if you need to and let it boil or simmer off.)
- Serve hot or warm with grated parmesan cheese or a dollop of sour cream (or plain, no fat Greek-style yogurt, which is my preference). Enjoy all year round!