© David Loftus
Theres a whole world of minestrones out there most of which follow very strict, authentic recipes. Personally, I feel that a minestrone should always reflect the seasons: more cabbagy, frumpy ones in the winter and lighter, more colorful ones in the spring and summer. A minestrone can also be a whole meal if you want it to be, with pasta, stale bread or rice to bulk it out. To complement the spring vegetables, Ive put a bit of a Genoese twist on it, with a spoonful of fresh pesto added at the last minute, so the flavors explode in your mouth. Give it a try.
First, if youre going to make pesto, do it now. Bring a pot of stock to a boil. Then you need to get all the vegetables prepared and put to one side. The fennel has to be halved, sliced and finely chopped, the asparagus needs to have the woody ends removed, the stalks finely sliced and the tips left whole, the cauliflowers need to be divided into small florets, the zucchini need to be quartered lengthwise and finely chopped and finally, the tomatoes need to be blanched (see page 110). Cut them in half, remove the seeds and finely slice. Now youre ready to rock and roll.
In a casserole-type pan (quite wide but not very deep) put 5 table- spoons of olive oil and heat the pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, scallions and fennel and gently fry without coloring at all for about 15 minutes. Then add the rest of your prepared vegetables, the pasta and your boiling stock. Bring to a boil, simmer for about 10 minutes, season, and serve in big bowls with a dollop of fresh pesto in the middle, a sprinkling of chopped basil and chives, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Try this: As you can see, the idea of this soup is to celebrate all the vegetables that are available at the time, so feel free to modify the soup and make it your own.
And this: A good way to break up your spaghetti is to wrap it in a tea towel and then run it over the edge of your work surface.
Did you know? The fact that everything is finely chopped means that the cooking time is very quick and the soup remains light and fresh.
6 heaping tablespoons fresh pesto
23/4 pintsgoodchicken,hamor vegetable stock
1 bulb of fennel 3 1/2 oz fine asparagus
2 Romanesco cauliflowers or 1 large cauliflower
6 baby zucchini
6 plum tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1 bunch of scallions, finely chopped
3 1/2 oz green beans, finely sliced
3 1/2 oz yellow beans, finely
3 1/2 oz peas, shelled
3 1/2 oz fava beans, shelled
31/2 oz spaghetti, broken up
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small handful of green or purple basil
1 small handful of chives