I consider minestrone to be the soup version of the “everything but the kitchen sink” salad.
It is really so versatile. Have some random veggies taking up space in the refrigerator? Have some chicken stock in the pantry? Then you’re all set for making your very own version of minestrone. But I know not everyone likes having that kind of freedom, that some of you out there really want that little nudge in the right direction just to make sure you don’t mess anything up. Luckily for you, I consider myself a minestrone pro.
I posted my classic version of minestrone a while back, but I’ve been itching to make a “green” minestrone ever since I’ve seen peas and asparagus popping up at the Farmer’s Markets this past month or so. Does anyone else get their cooking inspiration from what you see at the Farmer’s Market (or even the grocery store, for that matter?) I feel like I always get a plethora of new recipe ideas as soon as the seasons start changing and there’s new produce on hand for me to get creative with.
This Spring Green Minestrone is no exception. It’s chock full of fresh veggies like zucchini, kale, English peas and asparagus. It’s even easily made vegan! (You’ll see the special adjustments needed noted in the recipe.) And the Basil-Cilantro Pistou…my goodness, let me tell you about this Basil-Cilantro Pistou. It REALLY makes the dish. What is pistou, you ask? Well, the classic definition is it’s basically pesto without pine nuts. For this version, I did not include pine nuts, but I did add in some toasted almonds. I also omitted the cheese, and the good news is, you really don’t miss it! We just drizzle the pistou over the top of the soup before serving, top it with some grilled shrimp (if we’re not trying to make this vegan, that is) and enjoy a delicious and nutritious meal!
I’m planning on eating all of this Spring Green Minestrone these next few days…This weekend is my Bachelorette Party in Palm Springs and this is the perfect meal for me to prep for lounging by the pool in my bikini with my gals! I love vegetable-based soups because they’re nice and filling with very few calories. Add the lean protein from the shrimp and the almonds in the pistou and we have quite the healthy meal on our hands, folks!
I’m going to keep this short today. It’s opening weekend at the Santa Barbara Polo Club and my man and I are going to go check it out and enjoy the day in the sun with some friends. I’ll be sure to post some Instagram pics, and maybe I’ll even throw in a Snap? (I’m finally starting to figure it out guys! Follow me on Snapchat @caligirlcooking J )
Have a great Monday, friends. This Spring Green Minestrone is going to help us take the week by the horns!!
Spring Green Minestrone with Basil-Cilantro Pistou
For the soup:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ white onion minced
- 1 leek white part sliced
- ½ bunch of asparagus trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 zucchini diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme chopped
- Cheese rind optional, omit if making vegan version
- 32 ounces chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup English peas
- 2 cups Tuscan kale destemmed and shredded
- 1 15- ounce can Great Northern beans drained and rinsed
For the pistou:
- 1 ½ cups fresh basil
- ¾ cup fresh cilantro
- ¼ cup almonds toasted
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- Juice of ½ large lemon
- ¾ cup olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
For the shrimp (optional):
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 10 shrimp peeled and deveined
- Salt & pepper
- Place olive oil in a Dutch oven on the stove over medium-high heat. Once olive oil is warm, add garlic, onion and leek. Saute for about 5 minutes, or until mixture has become fragrant and started to turn translucent.
- Next, add asparagus and zucchini. Saute for a few more minutes, then add bay leaf and thyme and stir to combine.
- Add cheese rind, then cover mixture with chicken broth. Let this mixture come to a simmer, then add peas, kale and beans. Bring to a boil, then let simmer while you make the pistou (and shrimp, if making.)
- To make the pistou, combine all pistou ingredients except for olive oil in a food processor. Start processor and then slowly drizzle in olive oil. Continue pureeing until all ingredients are combined and pistou forms.
- To make the shrimp, heat coconut oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper, then add to sauté pan. Cook shrimp for a couple of minutes on each side, until shrimp is pink and opaque. Remove from heat.
- To serve, first ladle soup into soup bowls, then drizzle pistou over top. Finally, top with cooked shrimp.
- Wine Pairing Note: This soup is just screaming to be paired with a Sauvignon Blanc. The herbaceous quality of most Sauvignon Blancs (especially those from New Zealand) will pair perfectly with the “green-ness” of this dish.
- To make this dish vegan, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and omit shrimp and cheese rind.
- This soup is perfectly sopped up with a crusty bread.
Oh lovely bowl of nutritiousness..