I tore open into my veggie scheme box this afternoon and ate all the strawberries. The summer produce smells so good. What else was in there? Kale, three kinds of summer squash, green beans, baby turnips, basil, lemons, carrots, spring onions and garlic. The whole bounty could be thrown together for Summer Minestrone.
Delicious minestrone with fresh spring or summer vegetables is all about timing with a light touch— you slice the veggies as thin as you can, and barely cook them. Here's my recipe for this afternoon:
Melt butter, olive oil, and maybe a slice of bacon or pancetta in a Dutch Oven.
Saute the onions and garlic until they're soft and translucent. If you want to add finely-diced sweet peppers, or fennel, this is the time.
Slice your kale, or whatever leafy greens you've got into ribbons, and throw them in the pot— let them wilt in the oil.
Add about a tablespoon of either fish sauce (yes, the popular Chinese dish ingredient) OR anchovy paste. Same effect! When everyone is screaming about your secret ingredient at the table, don't tell them this is it... just shrug your shoulders and keep a constant supply in your cupboard.
Add a quart or so of chicken broth and heat to simmer. Let your kale (greens) simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Now for the sneaky part. If you have a Cuisinart, with the "slicing disk" attachment, it allows you to cut veggies as thin as potato chips— in seconds. That's what I did with the squash, turnips, green beans, turnips, and carrots. Bam bam bam. I have an adjustable disk I set at 2mm. (If you are using a mandolin or a knife, set aside about 20 minutes to do all this before you begin anything else).
So, back to the broth. Your kale is getting softer after five minutes. Add all those thinly-sliced veggies and let them simmer for about 10 minutes. Throw in some fresh corn kernels or peas for under 5 minutes. There is no vegetable of this season that doesn't fit in.
Towards the end, add some finely diced basil, just a couple tablespoons, and grate in a teaspoon of lemon zest.
Salt and pepper with flair.
I turned the heat off. You don't want those pretty little slices to lose their color.
I found some leftover cooked pasta in the fridge, orzo, and I added a couple handfuls. The broth warmed it right up. Rice or any other grain would've been fine, too.
Ladle into bowls and spoon on the Parmesan cheese. Pour a beer.
---Die and go to heaven!
Photo of Spring Onions from Mariquita Farms, who grow all the produce in my recipes!