My partner and I were out of town for a bit, enjoying warm and sunny weather and imagined that spring would be waiting for us when we came back to Québec. Instead, we realized that we had to take our winter jackets out of the closet and, this morning, woke up with a very white scenery I have never seen at this time in April.
Spring must be happening somewhere in the world today. It certainly is in my head, in my heart and now, it is in my bowl. I think the ingredients in minestrone should vary from season to season, being lighter in spring and summer, heartier in fall and winter. I used ingredients typically found at this time of year (ideally). If you don’t have access to ramps, just replace them by a few cloves of garlic. The result was quite satisfying and different from what we know. I hope you will like it.
2 to 3 tbsp olive oil
5 scallions, white and green part, sliced
1 handful of ramps or 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 pound asparagus, hard ends removed, sliced, stalks and tips separated
8 to 10 radishes, cut in quarters or eights depending on their size
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup fava beans, hard membrane removed
8 to 10 stalks of swiss chard, leaves and stems separated and chopped
6 cups of chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade
1 parmesan rind
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil to finish
freshly grated parmesan
mint and basil pesto for garnish (recipe below)
1. In a large pot over medium heat, pour the oil, add the scallions and the ramps or garlic. Stir for a few minutes until soft.
2. Add the broth, the chopped asparagus (not the tips), the radishes, the swiss chard stalks and the parmesan rind. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Add the peas, the fava beans, the asparagus tips and the swiss chard leaves. Cook for another 10 minutes, uncovered.
4. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the parmesan rind. Serve in large bowls with a drizzle of olive oil, freshly grated parmesan and a big dollop of pesto. Add croutons or a garlic crostini on the side. The soup will taste better the next day.
Mint and basil pesto:
2 cups of loosely packed mint leaves
1 cup of loosely packed basil leaves
1 big handful of blanched almonds
the zest of 1 lemon
extra virgin olive oil
1. Put all the ingredients except the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor.
2. On relatively high speed, add the olive oil in a slow drizzle until you have the desired consistency. You will need about 1/3 of a cup.
3. Adjust seasonings.
Note: use this pesto in soups, on chicken or fish.
Related post: Michael’s spring vegetable soup