If you’ve been following the blog lately, you’ll notice my posts have been inspired by Jamie Oliver’s “Top 10 Meals That Could Save Your Life.” When the folks at JO requested I do a twist on minestrone soup, I wasn’t quite sure how I’d make that an appealing blog post at this time of year. When we think of minestrone soup, we think of cold winter nights curled up by the fire. But as I thought about it, soup is good for the soul any time of year. And now that Jersey corn and tomatoes are at their peak, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to create a vegetable soup recipe which would highlight that exceptional flavor.
Many minestrone/vegetable soups call for canned tomatoes in their recipe. For this recipe, I use fresh organic Roma tomatoes. They require just a bit of prep work before cooking to remove the skins, but it’s well worth the effort.
Although the fresh vegetables alone are insanely delicious, the basil pistou is what really makes this soup special.
Pistou is a French condiment made from basil and garlic and used like pesto. I throw in a little Italian flare, by adding in some Parmesan cheese as well. If you wanted to keep this dish vegan, just omit the cheese part.
Pistou can be stirred into pastas, slathered on sandwiches or used in vegetable soups, as I’ve done here (soup au pistou in French). I suggest making large batches of it and freezing it in ice cube trays, to have whenever you need it.
There are a few options for serving the soup. For the kids, I added in some orzo pasta. My husband and I devoured it as is, with some toasted bread on the side…hello! You can add some beans to make it even more satisfying.
Either way, this little bowl of soup makes you feel like you’re being instantly transported to Provence.
Not a bad way to travel, huh?
*How to Prepare the Tomatoes for Easy Peeling:
(you need about 5-6 Roma tomatoes)
- Using a sharp knife, mark the tomatoes at the tip with “X”.
- Place them in a pot of boiling water for one minute.
- Transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool.
**For the Pistou:
(you will need about 3 cups packed basil, 2 garlic cloves, extra virgin olive oil and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese)
- To a food processor, add basil leaves, garlic and parmesan cheese.
- Begin to blend while at the same time adding in enough extra virgin olive oil to create a sauce. (sauce should not be too thin and not too thick…think pesto!)
- 5-6 Roma tomatoes (peeled and chopped) *
- ½ cup pistou sauce **
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 2 carrots (chopped)
- 2 celery stalks (chopped)
- 2 large zucchini (quartered and chopped)
- 2 ears fresh corn shucked
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- coarse salt
- Heat olive oil in a medium sized soup pot.
- Saute onions, carrots and celery with a pinch of salt for about 3-4 minutes until they begin to break down and soften.
- Add in the zucchini and corn and saute another 2 minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes, broth, bay leaves and bring to a boil.
- Turn down heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve in soup bowls.
- Top each bowl with about a tablespoon of basil pistou,
- Serve with additional parmesan cheese if desired.