by Lawrence Davis-Hollander
When tomatoes are shining forth in the garden, so, too, is a host of other good vegetables, zucchini, summer squash, peppers, and Swiss chard among them. Here's a minestrone recipe that features these and other summer crops.
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
• 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
• 4 cups (12-15 large) chopped ripe plum tomatoes
• 4-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
• 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
• 1 stem basil, plus extra sprigs for garnish
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup (4 ounces) penne, elbow macaroni, small shells, or other medium-size pasta
• 12 green beans, washed, trimmed, & cut into 1-inch pieces
• 1 medium green or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 2-inch by 1/4-inch strips
• 1 medium leek, washed, white and tender green parts cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 8 stems Swiss chard, stalks and leaves cut into 1-inch strips
• 1 medium zucchini, sliced
• 1 medium yellow summer squash, sliced
• 1/2--1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1. Warm the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; stir in the garlic and let it soften for 1 to 2 minutes, and then stir in the carrot and celery. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 4 cups of the broth, the oregano, thyme, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir. Cover the pan, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Increase the heat and bring the soup to a brisk boil over high heat. Stir in the pasta, followed by the green beans, bell pepper, and leek. Cook briskly, stirring often, for 3 minutes.
3. Reduce the heat so the soup is simmering and add the chard, zucchini, and summer squash. If the mixture is thicker than you like, add some or all of the remaining broth. Return to a simmer and cover the pan. Continue cooking the soup for 5 minutes, until the pasta and the vegetables are tender.
Serve immediately or cool and reheat as needed. Garnish with basil leaves. Check for seasoning before serving and add more salt and pepper and sugar to taste, if desired.