cheesy end-of-season garden minestrone

Maybe the evenings are a bit cooler. Maybe you just can’t wait for that much-anticipated chill in the air. You need soup now. This is just the one. Not quite as hearty as others. But it is an excellent way to use up some of those plentiful garden goodies. 

I won’t lie …there’s quite a bit of slicing, dicing & chopping goin’ on here. I suppose you could use some of the prepared produce they’re featuring in most markets these days. But you never know how fresh they are. I’m sure they’re fine in a pinch but if you have the time, freshly prepped is a good way to go.

The soup comes together quickly, so it’s highly recommended that you get the veggies sliced and chopped as your first step. I’m using a combo of zucchini, summer squash, green beans, and carrots. If you prefer a different combination, go for it. Corn would be so good. So would asparagus. Just make sure they are cut into uniform pieces so that they become tender at the same time. You may have noticed that my carrots are not diced …we just prefer a bit more chunkiness in our soup, so thin slices work well.

To begin the cooking process, the chopped onion is sautéed in olive oil. After a few minutes, the minced garlic is added along with the chopped fresh oregano.  

After less than 5 minutes, the onion and garlic should be slightly softened. At that time, the remaining vegetables are added. Did I mention that this soup comes together quickly?

Cover the pot and allow to sauté for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are al dente. While that’s happening, chop up the fresh tomatoes. Set aside a cup of them to be added to the soup. The remaining tomatoes are blended with some of the broth before going into the mix. 

You can use your blender for this process …or you can use an immersion blender, as I have done here. Super efficient and way less clean up this way, guys.

The blended tomato mixture is added to the pot along with the remaining tomatoes and broth. This is where you can make a vegetarian version of this recipe …simply be sure to use vegetable broth.

After a 20-minute simmer, the pasta and beans are added. You can use a gluten-free pasta here, making this a gluten-free dish.

While the pasta and beans cooking, it’s a good time to shred your asiago cheese. I do find that if you shred your own it tends to have a creamier texture than the pre-shredded variety. Either one will work, though.

Test the pasta for the desired texture. If ready, remove the pot from the heat and add the fresh baby spinach. Taste test to see if you need additional salt & pepper.

Hold off on adding the cheese until the soup is ladled into each bowl. That’s when it’s time to add the crowning glory.

The cheese will immediately begin to melt into the soup, getting all gooey and wonderful. If you like, add some freshly ground black pepper at this point. And don’t forget that crusty bread. It’s almost a requirement.

cheesy end-of-season garden minestrone

Capture the flavors of the summer harvest in one bowl of cheesy goodness. Vegetarian and gluten-free, if desired.

Servings 8 servings
Author Rosemary Stelmach

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 5 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups yellow squash, chopped (about 13 ounces)
  • 3 cups zucchini, chopped (about 13 ounces)
  • 1 cup carrot, thinly sliced (about 4.5 ounces)
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed & cut into bite-size pieces (about 4.5 ounces)
  • 4 cups plum tomatoes, cored & chopped, divided (about 22 ounces)
  • 1 (48-ounce) can chicken broth, divided (or vegetable broth)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup uncooked regular or gluten-free ditalini (very short tube-shaped pasta)
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can Great Northern beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 (5-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup shredded Asiago cheese (4 ounces)
  • coarsely ground black pepper, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat.  Add chopped onion and sauté for 3 minutes or until softened.  Add chopped oregano and minced garlic.  Sauté for 1 more minute.

  2. Stir in squash, zucchini, carrot and green beans.  Cover pot and allow to simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes or until vegetables are al dente.  Remove from heat.

  3. Place 3 cups chopped tomato and 1 cup broth in a blender; process until smooth.  Alternatively, place 3 cups chopped tomato and 1 cup broth in a high-sided bowl and using an immersion blender, process until smooth.  

  4. Add the tomato mixture to the pot and return the pot to the heat. Stir in the remaining chopped tomato and broth along with the salt & pepper.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

  5. Add pasta and beans to the pot.  Cook for 10 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  Stir in the spinach.

  6. Ladle soup into individual bowls and top each serving with about 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese.  If desired, garnish with coarsely ground black pepper.

cheesy end-of-season garden minestrone

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