I never know what to call these beauties (in English or French for that matter), but I do love them ! I’m becoming a kind of collector, happier to just look at them and run my fingers through a bowlful of dried, pretty beans ….. I grow quite a few varieties. Some shared by friends, some bought in heritage seed catalogs and some even come from markets in Spain, where they also love their dried beans. The great thing is that once grown in the garden, they can be saved to plant the following year, becoming “FREE FOOD” !
Minestrone is one of my favorite things to make and I change the ingredients with the seasons. As you can see by my (vague) list of ingredients, this type of soup can really be adapted to what you have or what you feel like. I had a hard time even putting it into a written recipe. Exchange beans for chickpeas, pasta for rice or leftover risotto, any other veg will do as well. To jazz it up a bit, a grating of strong sheeps cheese and a dollop of pesto just makes this soup irresistible !
late summer minestrone
- 1 medium onion or 3 medium leeks sliced or grated
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 carrots, diced
- a tablespoon of tomato paste
- 1.5 L chicken or veg stock (homeade is good)
- 1 or 2 medium courgettes (zucchini), sliced
- green beans, cut into bitesize pieces
- 1 1/2 cups cooked podded beans (if using totally dried beans, soak overnight first) or a tin in a pinch
- 2 or three tomatoes, chopped
- a handful of orzo pasta (or other small dried pasta)
- a handful of fresh herbs (such as basil, dill, oregano….)
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- grated flavourful cheese and pesto (if you wish at the table)
As with most soups, start by slowly softening the onions and carrots in some olive oil (try not to brown). Add garlic and tomato paste then the stock. Next goes in the courgettes and green beans. Once almost cooked to your liking, add the beans, pasta and tomatos. When the pasta is cooked ajust the liquid adding more stock or water, thow in the chopped or torn herbs, season with salt and pepper and serve. Bon Appetît !
TIP: I once read that when making soup… add just enough liquid to cover the veg and add more as needed instead of adding the total amount the recipe calls for right away ! I find this really works to concentrate the flavours….