This minestrone verde soup recipe is full of spring vegetables

Minestrone Verde

Active time:25 mins

Total time:45 min

Servings:4 to 6 (Makes 11 cups soup and 1/2 cup pesto)

Active time:25 mins

Total time:45 min

Servings:4 to 6 (Makes 11 cups soup and 1/2 cup pesto)

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The idea for a spring green spin on minestrone came to me after reading about minestras and pasta e fagioli, and generally about the muddled definitions of soups and stews in Italian and other cuisines.

Working as a recipe developer is funny. It may not seem this way, but because we test and retest (and retest) every recipe, and then need to have each one professionally photographed, we’re always working far ahead.

I developed this perfect-for-April recipe for Minestrone Verde, a soupy stew of beans, greens and pasta, in January. There was very little asparagus at the markets then, and I had to rely on frozen peas and my small pots of tender basil to get me through the development process.

But it was a fun way to let myself start daydreaming of spring’s green things. I thought that a soup full of green vegetables and herbs would be just the kind of meal I’d want to eat on a cool night in early spring.

So, I went to the market and bought up all the green things I could find: There were green onions but no green garlic, asparagus but no spring peas. I bought a box of baby spinach leaves and looked for a decent basil. I picked up fresh Italian parsley and also a bunch of dill. I knew I wanted beans in this soup, but instead of a white bean like cannellini, I decided on frozen lima beans — a dense, buttery bean that’s pale green, unfortunately much maligned but delicious and easy to find.

The first time I made the soup, I used all vegetable stock. It tinted the broth brown, so I made a mixed herb pesto to stir into the finished minestrone. After a few more tests, I settled on part vegetable broth and part water, with a generous amount of pesto to be stirred in, tableside. It turns the broth green as spring grass — and gives it a lush, verdant flavor. It’s just what I think you might want on a rainy or cool early spring night.

  • To make this soup meatless >> skip the bacon and salt pork (see VARIATION, below).
  • If you can’t find fresh scallions >> use a small onion instead.
  • Out of vegetable stock? >> Use water and maybe a splash of white wine.
  • I love the lima beans here >> though you could swap them for a white bean or even more peas.
  • I wouldn’t skip the pesto >> but if you do, drizzle each portion with a bit of olive oil and garnish with grated cheese and chopped herbs.

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  • 3 ounces thick-cut bacon (about 3 slices) or salt pork, diced (optional; see VARIATION)
  • 4 to 6 scallions, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 cup (3 ounces) frozen, or canned and drained, lima beans
  • 10 stalks asparagus, preferably thin, woody ends discarded, sliced ​​into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 4 ounces) small pasta, such as ditalini, mini farfalle or orzo
  • 1 cup (2 ounces) green peas, fresh or frozen
  • Fine salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 bunch (1 1/2 ounces) fresh parsley, dill or basil, leaves and tender stems, or a blend, plus a few extra sprigs for garnish
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed

Make the soup: Set a large Dutch oven or another heavy-bottomed pot with a lid over medium heat, and add the bacon or salt pork, if using (see VARIATION). Cook, stirring, until the fat has rendered and the pork is browned and crisp around the edges, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, stir in the scallions and celery, and cook, stirring, until tender and just beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook just until it becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the water, stock and lima beans and cover the pot. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Uncover and add the asparagus and pasta and return the soup to a boil. Cook until the pasta and asparagus are al dente, 5 to 8 minutes. Decrease the heat to low and add the peas and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep the soup warm until ready to serve.

Make the pesto: In the bowl of a food processor, preferably mini, combine the herbs, Parmesan and olive oil and process until smooth, adding a bit more olive oil, if needed.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top each with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the pesto. Garnish with the reserved herbs and serve hot.

VARIATION: For a vegetarian version of the soup, in a large Dutch oven or another heavy-bottomed pot with a lid over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the scallions, celery and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Then, proceed with the rest of the recipe above. (To make the soup vegan, omit the cheese from the pesto.)

Per serving (scant 2 cups soup and 1 heaping tablespoon pesto), based on 6

Calories: 448; Total Fat: 19g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 16 mg; Sodium: 407 mg; Carbohydrates: 55 g; Dietary Fiber: 6 g; Sugars: 4 g; Protein: 14 g.

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

From staff writer G. Daniela Galarza.

Tested by Kara Elder; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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Catch up on this week’s Eat Voraciously recipes:

Monday: Penne With Asparagus Pesto and White Beans

Wednesday: Nancy’s Chopped Salad

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