As Summer slides into Autumn here in Italy, I’m busy picking the crops that I planted as seeds back in the Spring. Last month I harvested more than 30kg of tomatoes…of which more later! I’m now moving onto the root vegetables, beans and leafy greens including iron-rich cavalo nero which I’m growing for the first time. This soup makes great use of these vegetables and is delicious either served on its own as a simple lunchtime snack or with bread and a chunk of cheese for supper. You can substitute the vegetables for whatever is available in your garden or local supermarket. It’s also great way of using up anything in your cupboard or fridge that’s a bit wilted and past its sell by date!
Two cloves of garlic
Four medium potatoes or a couple of larger ones
A couple of carrots - my garden ones are still quite small so this is about the equivalent
A tin of cannelloni or borlotti or their fresh equivalent
A handful of green or yellow string beans
A handful of leafy greens such as cabbage, kale or cavolo nero
Half a jar of pesto
A vegetable stock cube
This is a very simple recipe involving about ten minutes of preparation and half an hour of cooking time.
Begin by preparing your vegetables. I found these beautiful borlotti beans at my local market and used them alongside some spectacular purple beans grown in my garden. Sadly all the beans turned white when I cooked them and looked just like the ones out of a tin! You can use either.
Next chop up all your vegetables. Don’t be too precious about the chopping – this is simple rustic fare – but bear in mind that larger chunks will take longer to cook.
Fry off the onion in a little olive oil, adding the crushed garlic after 5 minutes. When the onions are translucent you can add the chopped vegetables and beans. Keep the green leaves and pesto to one side for the moment, we’ll add those later. Sauté for 5 minutes stirring constantly.
Mix the vegetable stock cube with half a litre of hot water and add it to the pan with a little salt and pepper. Simmer gently for 15 minutes before adding the pesto and chopped green leaves. You can add a little more water if the soup seems too thick. Cook gently a further 10 minutes or until the root vegetables are tender.
I served my garden vegetable soup with some homemade Parmesan toasts and an extra sprinkle of cheese.