Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest


Transition to Fall: Harvest Season Soup

Minestrone Soup

By the time you read this, summer will be officially over (sniff, sniff). With the changing of the seasons, our taste for salads is quickly turning into a demand for soup. Case in point – last weekend I attended a natural dye workshop on beautiful Lopez Island that I can’t wait to tell you about but it’ll have to wait until next week. First things first. On the second day of the workshop, the caterer promised hot soup for lunch but showed up with tuna salad. Outrage ensued! The disappointment was almost as thick as the fog that was chilling us to the bone.

San Marzano Tomatoes

The first thing I did upon my return wasn’t to start in dyeing bundles of fabric, although I picked up some purple carrots yesterday at the farmers market — the most coveted dye material of the weekend. No, I went out into the garden so see what I could use to make some soup. Between a stop at Hedlin’s Farm stand in La Conner, my garden and the Wallingford farmers market, I had plenty of fixings for a beautiful minestrone and then some. The variety of vegetables is outrageous now and if your freezer isn’t completely packed, you can make some extra soup for the gray days that will undoubtedly come soon enough.

Fresh Cranberry Beans

Due to our unusually perfect summer, many of us have tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes and chard. By adding garlic and onions, you could make an excellent soup and call it good but fresh shelling beans are showing up at the farmers markets. I picked up these lovely cranberry beans to make my minestrone a bit more authentic.

This soup recipe was inspired by the Late Summer Minestrone in a new cookbook called Franny’s Simple Seasonal Italian by Melissa Clark, Andrew Feinberg and Francine Stephens. It’s well worth checking out. You’ll find lots of recipes to make with our northwest local, seasonal ingredients.

Minestrone Soup

Harvest Season Minestrone Soup

Ingredients: 8 medium ripe tomatoes, I used a combination including San Marzanos/ 2 medium red onions, chopped/ At least 6 cloves of garlic, minced/ Parmigiano-reggiano cheese rinds – scrape away the waxy residue/ 1 cup fresh cranberry beans, shelled/ 4 cups water/ 6 new potatoes, cut into rounds/ 2 small zucchinis, cut into slices/ 1 bunch swiss chard, stems chopped, leaves chopped/ Big handful green beans, cut into pieces/ Basil leaves/ Olive oil/ Salt & pepper/ Freshly grated parmigiano cheese/ Burrata cheese (optional, but I had some on hand).

Directions: Bring a large pot of water to a boil/ Cut a small X on the bottom of each tomato and blanch in the boiling water for 30 seconds/ Remove from pot, let cool, then peel away the skin and chop coarsely/ In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and add the onions and garlic. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes/ Add chopped tomatoes and cook about 5 minutes/ Add cheese rind (in cheesecloth if you wish), cranberry beans and water to the pot/ Cook until beans are about halfway cooked, about 20 minutes/ Add potatoes and cook until beans and potatoes are tender/ In a large skillet heat more olive oil and saute chard stems until tender/ Add zucchini and beans, salt well and saute a few minutes, just until tender/ Add chard leaves, salt again and saute until wilted/ Remove the cheese rind from the tomato soup base and add vegetables/ Garnish with fresh basil (or pesto), freshly grated cheese, salt and pepper and if you have it, a big piece of burrata is absolutely divine.

Late Season Tomatoes

You may have noticed that this version of minestrone doesn’t include pasta. If you want to, by all means, add some, but truthfully, I didn’t miss it at all — it’s all about the fresh vegetables and letting them shine for what may be the last time until next summer. A perfect way to ease into our long season of  comfort food.



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4 Responses »

  1. Oh, you are a gal after my own heart, Poppy … I cannot wait to try this recipe! I’ve a huge crop of Borlotti (cranberry) beans this season and this fare will totally fit the bill. I’ve previously made a stew-like pot of mixed veg with the addition of spicy sausage, but you know, sometimes it’s pure veg you want. This looks delish.

    Thanks for the excellent chuckle about the fog ;>]]


  2. Christi, this recipe is really versatile — 2nd night I added eggplant, curry paste and coconut milk to the tomato base (with no added dairy) and it was even better!!

  3. ok, now you’ve done it – I’ll have to eat it THAT WAY, too!!

  4. I love the sound if this and I will try it soon. Recently watching a food video where the Parmesan producers in Italy were saying that the outside is actually all cheese, and has just been hardened over time and is all perfectly edible. I stopped scraping it off and just grated the whole lot on my microplane and added it to soup. It worked out well.