This minestrone verde soup recipe is packed with spring veggies

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Green minestrone

Active time:25 minutes

Total time:45 minutes

Servings:4 to 6 (makes 11 cups soup and 1/2 cup pesto)

Active time:25 minutes

Total time:45 minutes

Servings:4 to 6 (makes 11 cups soup and 1/2 cup pesto)

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The idea for a spring green version of minestrone came to me after reading about minestras and pasta e fagioli and the confused definitions of soups and stews in Italian and other cuisines in general.

Working as a recipe developer is fun. It may not seem like it, but because we have to test and retest (and retest) every recipe, and then have each professionally photographed, we always work way ahead.

I came up with this perfect April recipe for January’s minestrone verde, a soupy stew made with beans, veggies, and pasta. Back then there was very little asparagus in the markets and I had to rely on frozen peas and my little pots of tender basil to get me through the development process.

But it was a fun way to get me daydreaming about the green things of spring. I figured that a soup full of green veggies and herbs would be just the kind of meal I want to eat on a chilly spring evening.

So I went to the market and bought everything green I could find: there were spring onions but no green garlic, asparagus but no spring peas. I bought a box of baby spinach leaves and was looking for some decent basil. I used fresh Italian parsley and also a sprig of dill. I knew I wanted beans in this soup, but instead of a white bean like cannellini, I opted for frozen lima beans — a fat, buttery bean that’s bright green, unfortunately much maligned, but tasty and easy to find.

The first time I made the soup, I used all of the vegetable broth. It turned the broth brown, so I made a mixed herb pesto that I stirred into the finished minestrone. After a few more tests, I settled on part vegetable broth and part water with a generous amount of pesto to stir in at the table. It turns the broth green like spring grass – and gives it a rich, green flavor. It’s just what I think you want on a rainy or chilly spring night.

  • To make this soup meatless >> skip the bacon and salt beef (see VARIATION below).
  • If you can’t find fresh scallions >> use a small onion instead.
  • No more vegetable broth? >> Use water and maybe a splash of white wine.
  • I love the lima beans here >> but you could swap them out for a kidney bean or even more peas.
  • I wouldn’t skip the pesto >> but if I do, drizzle each serving with a little olive oil and garnish with shredded cheese and chopped herbs.

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  • 3 ounces thick-cut bacon (about 3 slices) or salt beef, diced (optional; see VARIATION)
  • 4 to 6 spring onions, sliced
  • 3 sticks of celery, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped or grated
  • 6 cups of water
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup (3 ounces) frozen or canned and drained lima beans
  • 10 spears asparagus, preferably thin, woody ends removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 4 ounces) small pasta like ditalini, mini farfalle, or orzo
  • 1 cup (2 ounces) green peas, fresh or frozen
  • fine salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 bunch (1 1/2 ounces) fresh parsley, dill or basil, leaves and tender stems or a mixture, plus a few extra sprigs for garnish
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed

Prepare the soup: Place a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed saucepan with a lid over medium-high heat and add the bacon or salt pork, if using (see VARIATION). Cook, stirring, until fat is rendered and pork is browned and crispy around the edges, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, stir in the spring onions and celery and cook, stirring, until tender and just beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the water, broth, and lima beans and cover the pot. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Uncover and add the asparagus and pasta and bring the soup back to a boil. Cook until pasta and asparagus are al dente, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to minimum and add the peas and season with salt and pepper. Keep the soup warm until serving.

Prepare the pesto: In the bowl of a food processor, preferably mini, combine the herbs, parmesan and olive oil and process until smooth, adding a little more olive oil if needed.

To serve, fill the soup into small bowls and spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of pesto on each. Garnish with the herbs you set aside and serve hot.

VARIANT: For a vegetarian version of the soup, in a large Dutch Oven or other heavy-bottomed saucepan with a lid, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the spring onions, celery, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Then continue with the rest of the recipe above. (To make the soup vegan, omit the cheese from the pesto.)

Per serving (just under 2 cups of soup and 1 heaping tablespoon of pesto), based on 6

Calories: 448; total fat: 19 g; Saturated fat: 5 g; cholesterol: 16 mg; Sodium: 407 mg; carbohydrates: 55 g; fiber: 6 g; Sugar: 4g; Protein: 14 g.

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a nutritionist or nutritionist.

By staff writer G. Daniela Galarza.

Tested by Kara Elder; email questions [email protected].

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Check out this week’s Eat Voraciously Recipes:

Monday: Penne with asparagus pesto and white beans

Wednesday: Nancy’s Chopped Salad

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