Winter Minestrone

Julie Peacock

Winter Minestrone

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Makes servings

Pesto ingredients:

8 cups fresh herbs and/or greens (like kale, arugula, mustard greens, dandelion greens) loosely packed, to fill the bowl of a food processor

Freshly squeezed lemon juice (start with 1 lemon)

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 garlic clove

½ cup grated cheese, a combination of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino or straight Parmigiano-Reggiano

½ to 1 cup nuts, lightly toasted

½ cup olive oil, plus more as needed

Soup ingredients:

¼ cup olive oil

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

8 garlic cloves, minced

3 bunches mixed greens (Swiss chard, mustard greens, and/or kale), finely chopped with stalk ends trimmed (about 15 cups)

1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste

3 15.5-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

3 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes, with their juice

3 quarts vegetable broth or chicken broth, plus more if needed

8 inches Parmesan rinds

This is a sort of “clean-out-the-fridge” soup, as any variety of vegetables will do. The soup’s rich flavor comes from tossing your old Parmesan rinds into the soup as it cooks, so DO NOT skip this step! Also, the addition of the garlicky pesto brightens the soup and even gives it a little kick. All three of my kids willingly shove big spoonfuls of this seasonal soup into their mouths—truly, the highest of compliments!


To make the pesto:

1. Put the herbs/greens, lemon juice, salt, garlic, cheese, and nuts in a food processor.

2. Pulse the processor a few times to get everything a little mashed down, then run the processor and drizzle in the oil, starting with about 1⁄2 cup.

3. Stop, scrape down the sides with a spatula, and taste. Salt? Check.

To make the soup:

1. Heat the oil in the stockpot and add the onions, garlic, and mixed greens. Sprinkle with the salt and sauté until the vegetables are slightly wilted, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the beans, tomatoes, broth, Parmesan rinds, carrots, and butternut squash and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender but still firm.

3. Add the zucchini and yellow squash and cook, loosely covered, for 10 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender. If the soup is too thick, add more broth or water.

4. Before ladling the soup into jars, fish out and discard the gooey cheese rinds. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Serve with a dollop of pesto and grated cheese over the top with a warm baguette.