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Minestrone verde showcases spring’s finest vegetables

G Daniela Galarza

THE WASHINGTON POST – The idea for a spring green spin on minestrone came after reading about minestras and pasta e fagioli, and the muddled definitions of soups and stews in Italian cuisine.

Working as a recipe developer is funny. It may not seem this way, but because we test and retest every recipe, and then have each one professionally photographed, we’re always working far ahead.

I developed this perfect-for-April recipe for Minestrone Verde, a soupy stew of beans, greens and pasta, in January.


This minestrone, thick with vegetables, is green with pesto swirled into each bowl before serving.

To make this soup meatless skip the beef (see VARIATION, below).

If you can’t find fresh scallions use a small onion instead. The lima beans you could swap for white beans or more peas. I wouldn’t skip the pesto, but if you do, drizzle each portion with a bit of olive oil and garnish with grated cheese and chopped herbs.

Make Ahead: The pesto can be made one day in advance.

Storage Notes: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to four days.

For the soup

– Three ounces beef bacon (three thick slices) or salt beef, diced (optional; see VARIATION)

– Four to six scallions, sliced

– Three stalks celery, sliced

– Three cloves garlic, minced or finely grated

– Six cups water

– Four cups vegetable stock

– One cup (three ounces) frozen, or canned and drained, lima beans

– 10 stalks asparagus, preferably woody ends discarded, chopped into one-inch pieces

– One-and-a-half cups (about four ounces) small pasta, such as ditalini, mini farfalle or orzo

– One cup (two ounces) green peas (fresh or frozen)

– Fine salt

– Freshly cracked black pepper

For the pesto

– One bunch (one-and-a-half ounces) fresh parsley, dill or basil, leaves and tender stems, or a blend, plus a few extra sprigs for garnish

– One-and-a-half ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

– Quarter cup olive oil, plus more as needed


Make the soup: Set a large Dutch oven or another heavy-bottomed pot with a lid over medium heat, and add the beef bacon or salt beef, if using (see VARIATION).

Cook, stirring, until the fat has rendered and the beef is browned and crisp around the edges, about five minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high, stir in the scallions and celery, and cook, stirring, until tender and just beginning to brown, about three minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook just until it becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the water, stock and lima beans and cover the pot. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.

Uncover and add the asparagus and pasta and return the soup to a boil. Cook until the pasta and asparagus are al dente, five to eight minutes. Decrease the heat to low and add the peas and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep the soup warm until ready to serve.

Make the pesto: In the bowl of a food processor, preferably mini, combine the herbs, Parmesan and olive oil and process until smooth, adding a bit more olive oil, if needed.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top each with one to two tablespoons of the pesto. Garnish with the reserved herbs and serve hot.

VARIATION: For a vegetarian version, in a large Dutch oven or another heavy-bottomed pot with a lid over medium-high heat, heat two tablespoons of oil until it shimmers.

Add the scallions, celery and a quarter teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and beginning to brown, about three minutes.

Then, proceed with the rest of the recipe above. (To make the soup vegan, omit the cheese.)