Minestrone alla Genovese

Spring is in the air! I don’t know about you, but after the long winter I am so ready to cook light and fresh dishes with lots of vegetables. Ok, so I admit this may also have something to do with the fact that I’ve been indulging in too much cake recently, but I am tired of subzero weather food. When March rolls around, I officially declare the end of winter cooking and eagerly await the arrival of delicate spring produce and herbs at the market. I rummage through my cookbooks and cooking magazines and rediscover old recipes like long lost friends.

Like this colorful Minestrone alla Genovese, which is brimming with vegetables and gets an extra dose of flavor from bright green pesto alla Genovese that’s mixed into the soup. Served with crusty white bread, it makes a nice light and very satisfying lunch. If you are pressed for time, you could use store bought pesto, but nothing compares to the home made version. Most pesto that you get at stores contains very little (and very low quality) olive oil and usually has cashew nuts mixed in as a filler. Real pesto contains neither sunflower oil nor cashew nuts, and I promise you will never want to go back to eating the store bought version once you have made it yourself.

Minestrone alla Genovese (serves 6)
120g finely chopped onion
70g chopped celery
70g carrots, peeled and chopped
70g chopped leek
250g potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
120g chopped zucchini
150g ditalini (or other short pasta)
70g frozen peas
1l vegetable stock
extra virgin olive oil
40g grana padano or parmiggiano reggiano
20g pecorino sardo, grated
20g pine nuts
20 large basil leaves
garlic
salt

1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot.
2. Add celery, carrots, onion, and leek and cook for about 5 minutes.
3. Add potatoes and zucchini and cook for 1 minute.
4. Add stock and pasta and bring to boil.
5. About 3 to 4 minutes before vegetables are tender and pasta is al dente, add frozen peas and pesto (recipe see below).
6. Serve with crusty white bread.

Pesto
1. Using a mortar and pestle, gently smash the basil and pine nuts with a small amount of finely chopped garlic.
2. Add 60g extra virgin olive oil, grana, pecorino, and a pinch of salt, grinding everything to a smooth paste.

Enjoy!

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