Summer Minestrone with Fresh Basil

by Anne Bennett on June 15, 2016

First, let’s agree on some basic facts. Summer has arrived: check. Temperatures are slowly climbing into the stratosphere: check.  Time to put on a pot of soup: whoa. You lost me there.

Hold on, there’s a method to my madness. We know that broth-based soups are low in calories and satisfying. This recipe, from New York Times Health columnist Martha Rose Shulman, is for a summer soup absolutely packed with fresh seasonal vegetables. It’s similar to popular Weight Watchers low-point veggie soups, but this one has more filling ingredients like beans and pasta.

The first night I served this warm instead of hot, and Champ remarked that with a glass of red wine, he felt like he was dining at a bistro in France or Italy. It’s very fresh, light and as I said, filling. Delicious regardless of the temperature outside.

Martha’s recipe calls for 8 cups of water, which is how I made it. Afterwards, I realized that low-sodium chicken broth would work as well and call for less added salt. Good fresh tomatoes aren’t available yet so I substituted a can of diced tomatoes with their juice and they were fine.

You probably don’t have to cook the green beans  separately and then cool them in ice water, but I can see why Martha suggested that step — the green beans remain bright green instead of turning dull green-brown, which makes them more visually appealing. Remember, we eat with our eyes as well.

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (or 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes with their juice)
1 medium turnip, peeled and diced
3/4 lb. zucchini, diced
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves ( or 1 tsp. dried thyme )
8 cups water*
1 (15-oz.) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
6 oz. green beans, cut into 1″ lengths
1/2 cup soup pasta, such as elbow macaroni or broken spaghetti
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup slivered fresh basil leaves
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven and add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes, and add 1/2 tsp. salt. Continue to cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 more minutes.

Add garlic, stir together for about a minute, and stir in tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until tomatoes have cooked down, about 10 minutes. Stir in 2 quarts (8 cups) water*, the turnip, zucchini, bay leaf and thyme and bring to a simmer. Add 2 tsp. salt, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Stir in canned beans. Taste and adjust salt. Remove bay leaf.

While the soup is simmering, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the green beans. Boil 5 minutes, until just tender but still bright green. Transfer to a bowl of ice water, allow to cool and drain.

Add pasta to the soup and simmer another 10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked al dente. Stir the cooked green beans into the soup. Grind in fresh pepper and stir in fresh slivered basil.

Sprinkle each serving with 1 Tbsp. of grated Parmesan

  • You can use either half or all low-sodium chicken broth and reduce the amount of salt called for.

Serves 6 to 8
WW SmartPoints per 6 servings: 4
WW SmartPoints per 8 servings: 3

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen June 16, 2016 at 10:26 am

The colors!

Judy June 16, 2016 at 1:42 pm

A couple of years ago, I discovered that turnips are a great, healthy thickener for soup.

For me, a hearty soup like this one would be much more satisfying than a broth-based soup.

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