It doesn’t matter whether it’s winter or summer, but for me, soup is always welcome at the table. And when you’ve got summer produce like zucchini, beans and corn at their freshest, why not make a minestrone soup and combine them all, adding some carrots and celery along the way? Don’t forget the pasta too, which in this case was some homemade pasta scraps I cut out and left to dry after a ravioli-making session a while ago. If I hadn’t used homemade pasta bits, I would have tossed in some store-bought ditalini or orzo pasta or maybe even elbow macaroni. I normally cook the pasta in a separate pot of water and add it to the soup when I’m doling it out into the bowl. Otherwise, if you’ve got leftover soup and have added too much pasta to start with, you’re likely to end up with hardly any broth. By the way, this soup is even better the second day, when it’s had more time for all the flavors to blend and the starch from the beans is released to make it a bit thicker.
There is no meat in this soup recipe, but feel free to use some chicken or beef broth if you like. But it’s got plenty of flavor without it, especially if you’ve added the corn cobs to the broth and a parmesan rind or two. Don’t forget to take them out before serving though, or someone could be in for a surprise! Also, the amounts and varieties of the vegetables are up to you. If you want more corn, add it. Or if you don’t like beans, leave them out. Mix and match with whatever suits your fancy.
By the way, I was so thrilled to post this soup using this bowl, which brought back memories of my mother and something she used to say quite often at the table when I was growing up.
For those of you who don’t speak Italian, here’s the translation: “Either eat this soup, or jump out the window.” Fortunately my mom was a great cook, hence we had no window jumpers in my family.
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- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup minced onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 stalks of celery, minced
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1½ cups chopped green beans
- 2 cups chopped zucchini
- 8 cups water
- a parmesan cheese rind
- 1 cup pureed plum tomatoes
- 1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can red or black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 ears of corn, stripped off the cob, but retain the cob to put in the pot
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- fresh basil, thyme and parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ditalini, elbows or orzo pasta
- parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top
- Place the olive oil in a large pot, and sauté the onion, garlic and celery until soft but not browned.
- Add the carrots, green beans, zucchini, water, parmesan cheese rind and tomatoes.
- Add the salt, pepper and fresh and dried herbs.
- Cook everything together at a low simmer for 45 minutes, adding the corn cobs.
- Remove the corn cobs from the pot and add the beans and the corn kernels.
- Cook for another ½ hour.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in water in a separate pot.
- When the vegetables are cooked, add some of the pasta to the soup and serve in bowls.
- If you're not serving all the soup at once, wait to add the pasta, otherwise the pasta will become overcooked and mushy when you reheat it.