Farmers’ Market Minestrone
This is one of those wonderful recipes that change each time I make it, depending on what’s in the stalls at the farmers’ market and what I have on hand in my pantry. Think of this version as a guideline and feel free to improvise. Adding the small meatballs featured in the Pasta Timballo recipe was my daughter, Adriana’s, inspired idea. They turn the soup into a one-dish meal, perfect for a casual gathering of family or friends.
The broth may be made in advance and kept in a tightly lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. The meatballs may be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated or up to 1 month ahead and frozen. If frozen, bring them to room temperature before using.
Makes8 to 10 first-course servings or 6 main-course servings
Cooking Methodfrying, roasting
Total Timeunder 4 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
One Pot MealYes
Recipe Courseappetizer, main course
Dietary Considerationappetizer, main course
Taste and Textureherby, light, savory
Type of Dishhot soup, soup
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into large chunks, or 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 3 carrots, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3 ribs celery, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 large onion, cut into chunks
- 3 scallions, bulbs and stems cut crosswise into large pieces
- Stalks and fronds of 1 fennel bulb, cut into large pieces (reserve the bulb for the soup)
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 8 cups (2 quarts) cold water
- ¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus additional for drizzling
- 2 medium carrots, trimmed and cut into ½-inch dice
- 1 fennel bulb, cut into ½-inch dice
- 3 purple or green scallions or spring onions, bulbs and tender stems cut crosswise into thin slices
- 1 zucchini, cut into ½-inch dice (about 1 cup)
- 1 yellow squash, cut into ½-inch dice (about 1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1 (15-Ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (briefly thawed if frozen)
- 1 batch Meatballs from the Pasta Timballo
- 2 cups small shell-shaped pasta
- 5 ounces fresh spinach leaves
- 1 packed cup shredded fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
To Make the Broth:
Heat the oven to 450°F.
Combine all of the ingredients for the broth, except the water and peppercorns, in a large roasting pan and toss well to combine. Place the pan in the oven and roast the vegetables for 30 to 40 minutes, turning every 15 minutes or so, until they are soft and browned in places.
Transfer the vegetables and their juices to a large pot and pour in the water. Add the peppercorns and bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially, and cook for 45 minutes, until the broth is richly flavored.
Remove the broth from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Using a fine-mesh sieve lined with damp cheesecloth, strain the broth into a clean pot. Discard the solids. Return the broth to the burner, cover, and keep warm over low heat.
To make the soup:
In a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, fennel, and scallions and sauté, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, until the carrots are bright and shiny and the scallions are softened. Add the zucchini and yellow squash and season with 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook for 3 minutes, just until the squashes start to soften.
Add the chickpeas and corn kernels and cook for a minute or two, then slowly pour in the warm broth. Add the meatballs. Bring the broth to a boil and stir in the shells. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the shells are al dente (cooking time will depend on the brand and type of pasta you use). Turn off the heat and add the spinach, stirring until it is wilted. Cover the pot and let the soup sit for just a minute or two. Stir in the basil and the cheeses.
Ladle the soup into individual shallow rimmed bowls and drizzle each serving with a little olive oil. Serve immediately.
2008 Domenica Marchetti