I have created the perfect healthy, zesty and scrumptious soup for us this week.
Okay so I know that soups are usually reserved for the winter months when we need warmth and nourishment but I felt there was a niche in the market for a spring appropriate soup so I have adapted an Italian classic for this time of year.
Traditionally a minestrone is made with chopped tomatoes and beans and often with a lot of rather heavy (though delicious) root vegetables. I substituted out some of the heavier ingredients and instead have made a clear vegetable broth with light, seasonal vegetables and added plenty of basil and lemon for a fresh and zesty undertone. I did keep the customary pasta in however as adding pasta to a soup is pure genius in my opinion. I have suggested using orzo (a rice shaped pasta) as it absorbs the flavour of the stock so well and gets easily scooped up onto a spoon alongside all of the vegetables – if you cannot get your hands on orzo then any small pasta or rice would work well. Equally you could leave pasta out of the equation all together and make a simple vegetable soup if you were after a light meal – it could work wonderfully as a starter at a dinner party…
This beautiful mesh of vegetables, broth and pasta is then topped off with a dash of extra virgin olive oil, parmesan shavings and fresh basil leaves. I have also sprinkled over a few crushed chili flakes for a final burst of flavour and colour to the dish but this is definitely an optional step – I imagine my Mum would consider it sacrilege to add any heat to such a mellow dish, but I am a chili flake addict.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and finely sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 courgette, topped, tailed and diced
- 400 ml good quality vegetable stock
- 250 ml boiled water
- 100 g orzo
- three spring onions, ends removed and cut into 2 inch chunks
- 100 g asparagus, woody ends removed and cut into 2 inch chunks
- 100 g frozen peas
- 1 large bunch of basil
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- parmesan (to serve)
- extra virgin olive oil (to serve)
- chili flakes (optional)
- In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Finely slice the basil stalks (leaving the leaves to one side) and add to the pan with the onion, garlic and courgette to saute for five minutes.
- Once the vegetables have softened add the vegetable stock and water to the pan. Add the lemon zest to the stock and a small pinch of salt and pepper and bring to a simmer for ten minutes. Some stocks can be very salty naturally so add salt with caution.
- Pour the orzo into the pan to cook for five minutes before adding the remaining vegetables and basil leaves. Cook for a further five minutes until everything has cooked through. Add the lemon juice to the pan, taste the soup and then season with more salt and pepper accordingly.
- Serve the soups between four bowls and drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil and parmesan and scatter over the remaining basil leaves.
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