If you want to relish the taste of spring, our Minestrone Soup is for you. Just this last week as part of our Joyful 12 School Project, fifty of our students helped us make a gigantic batch as we devoured our meatless meal all celebrating spring spinach.
What I love about this recipe is that is takes you on a journey to Italy. As I explained to our eager students, Minestrone hails from Italy, as does pesto, which was our soup and toast topping for the class. Italians know how to use up what’s growing each season in ways that are both satisfying and easy to modify based on what’s in your pantry.
Take our pesto for example! Any good cook knows that cheese and nuts are critical elements in the classic basil pesto, but for our school class we needed to improvise. No cheese? No problem! Nut allergy? Again, we’ve got this! With a hearty dose of fresh and fragrant basil, some baby spinach, and some good olive oil and garlic, our base was still in tact. To make up for what was missing, we added some chickpeas which gave us added protein and fiber without taking away from the herby sauce. The kids ADORED it atop their toasts.
I hope your family will try our Easy Spring Minestrone with our Spinach Pesto and relish in your own improvisations as any good Italian family would!
- Fennel, 1 small
- Onion (yellow), 1
- Green onion, 1 bunch
- Salt, 2 tsp
- Black pepper, 1/2 tsp
- Garlic, 4 cloves
- Fire roasted tomatoes (We use Muir Glen organic diced), 1 28 oz can
- Vegetable broth (organic, low sodium), 1 32 oz box
- Water, 2 cups
- Spinach (baby), 2 cups
- Peas (frozen, baby), 1 cup
- Pasta shells (gluten free), or your favorite pasta, 1 lb
- Walnuts, 1/3 cup
- Chickpeas, ½ cup
- Garlic, 1 clove
- Spinach (baby), 2 cups
- Basil (fresh), 2 cups
- Salt, 1 tsp
- Olive oil, 2/3 cup
- Take 5 minutes to get out all your ingredients, measuring and cooking equipment needed, and place them on a cookie sheet within easy reach. Wash all produce.
- Cut onion, green onion, and fennel into dice.
- Get out a big soup pot to cook pasta. Fill about ½ way with water and cover with a lid.
- First place walnuts, chickpeas and garlic together in a food processor.
- Add basil and spinach gradually, with olive oil, to combine.
- Add salt, blend and check for overall seasoning.
- Saute yellow onion, green onion and fennel on medium high heat in 2 tablespoons olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt for 5 minutes.
- Add fire roasted tomatoes with juice from can, garlic, vegetable broth and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil, which will take about 5-7 minutes.
- Once boiling, turn down to a simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes.
- While waiting for the soup to cook for 15 minutes, bring your pot of water to a boil for the pasta. When the water comes to a boil, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.You can rinse it quickly to keep noodles from sticking.
- Add peas and spinach to soup and cook another 10 minutes on low.
- Add 1 ½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper and check for seasoning.
- Add pasta just before serving, so it doesn’t soak up all the broth! In each bowl, top soup with a spoonful of spinach pesto. We also love to drizzle a little more olive oil on top!
- This soup is meant to be easy. We love fresh peas but use frozen to make this fast and easy. We are making a dairy free pesto recipe below, but you can also buy pre-made pesto to save time.