Minestrone Verde is traditionally made in spring when fresh peas are widely available, however, I thought it would be a great occasion for you to turn away from the heavy Holiday food we are about to have. And green is a Holiday colour after all, isn’t it?
To make a good Minestrone Verde, simply choose assorted green vegetables of your choice, along with green lentils and green pesto. I am particularly fond of the combination of zucchini, nutmeg and basil you find in this soup.
This is also the perfect occasion to add that parmesan rind you have been keeping in the freezer for the last few months.
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 small leeks, white and light green parts, finely chopped
50 g pancetta, finely chopped (optional)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup green lentils, picked and rinsed
1 bay leaf
a few gratings of fresh nutmeg
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
parmesan rind (optional)
2 or 3 green zucchini, quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into thin slices
1 cup ditalini pasta or other short pasta
2 cups frozen or fresh peas
2 handfuls of baby spinach or baby kale
basil pesto, preferably homemade
Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving
extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a Dutch oven or other heavy bottom pot, heat the oil over medium-low and add the leeks, pancetta and celery. Cook for a few minutes, until the vegetables are soft and the pancetta starts to crisp up. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
2. Add the broth, the bay leaf, the parmesan rind if using, and the green lentils. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Uncover.
3. Add the zucchini and continue to cook for 10 minutes, then add the pasta and cook for another 10 minutes. Add a few gratings of fresh nutmeg.
4. Finally, add the peas and the spinach (or kale), taste for seasonings, turn the heat off and cover. Let rest for 10 minutes then serve in individual bowls, top with 1/2 teaspoon of pesto, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and parmesan cheese.