The recipe begins with a flavor base of sauteed onion and garlic. Then the vegetables are added. I use sliced grape tomatoes and asparagus or green beans that have been cut into 1-inch pieces. Other vegetable options include diced zucchini or yellow squash, tiny broccoli or cauliflower florets, fresh or frozen corn kernels or green peas.
Though the vegetables in the soup give it a lovely light quality, the soup is hearty enough for a meal thanks to two additions: cooked datalini pasta and a can of white beans. You can decrease or omit the pasta and double the amount of vegetables in the soup for a lighter version.
The last additions to the soup are some prepared pesto sauce and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. These give the soup loads of flavor without a lot of additional work.
If you’re taking the soup to the office for lunch, pack the soup and the pasta separately and then stir them together just before reheating. Otherwise the pasta will absorb a lot of the soup’s liquid while it rests in the refrigerator.
Top each serving with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with a side salad and some crusty bread for a light spring or summer lunch or supper.
SPRING AND SUMMER VEGETABLE SOUP
1 cup ditalini or other short pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small to medium sweet onion, peeled and chopped, about 1 cup
1 teaspoon minced garlic, about 1 large clove
1 bunch fresh asparagus or 1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 container grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 can cannellini, great northern or navy beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup prepared pesto sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or other large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until they are tender and beginning to turn golden, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, asparagus or green beans, and grape tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and saute for 3 minutes.
Add broth and cannellini beans then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Stir in the cooked pasta (see note below), prepared pesto and lemon juice, and simmer until heated through. Ladle into bowls and top each serving with freshly grated Parmesan.
Makes six servings.
One note: If you aren’t going to eat all of the soup when prepared, keep it and the pasta separate.
To serve, place some of the pasta in the bottom of a soup bowl and ladle the soup over the top.
If the soup is hot, you still might need to microwave if for a minute or so to heat the pasta.
If the soup is cold, combine the soup with the pasta and reheat, covered loosely with a paper towel, for two to three minutes in the microwave.