Amped-Up Fall Garden Minestrone

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Fall is here! Time again for comforting stews and heartwarming soups and pastas! Gone are the long days of summer, bikinis and flip flops…single tear.

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All that’s left in the veggie garden is some unruly swiss chard, kale, a zuke or two holding on for dear life and shelling beans. I was smart enough to sow a new row of fall mizuna greens so those should be ready in time for Thanksgiving dinner!

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When I’m about to give up on my garden, this is the soup I make. It is like an annual sad farewell and officially marks the beginning of an obsession with the changing leaves, cozy sweaters, new booties, warm soulful meals and holiday cooking! I get it, it is still September – The Hallmarks of the world love people like me.

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Also, this Minestrone has been given a revamp with some hot peppers, Nduja instead of pancetta and smoky toasted fregola instead of pasta. Any of the above will work of course.

Fall Garden Minestrone

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 chili, minced (optional)
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 150 g Nduja sausage or pancetta or bacon, chopped
  • 2 yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped roughly
  • 1 lb mixture of swiss chard and kale (trimmed of stalks), chopped
  • 28 oz. canned tomatoes
  • 1 2-inch piece of Parmesan rind
  • 3 sprigs of each rosemary and thyme, tied
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 x 15 oz. can of beans of your choice (I used 1 cup of shelled beans from our garden)
  • 8 cups of beef or chicken broth, low sodium
  • 3/4 cup fregola or small shaped dried pasta
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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In a large dutch oven, heat the oil and throw in the Nduja. Brown and break it up using the back of a spoon. Add the onion, garlic, chili and cook on medium until onions are translucent. Add the celery and carrots and warm through. Throw in the potato, rind, herbs and the beans. Pour in the broth and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Cook on medium-low for 30 minutes. In a blender, puree 2 cups of the soup until completely smooth and return to the pot (make sure not to get the rind or herbs in the blender). Add the zukes, chard and pasta and cook until the soup has thickened and the pasta is soft.

Fish out the rind and herbs and stir in some parsley before serving.

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Serve it up with homemade croutons, a dollop of pesto and finish with a fresh grate of Parmesan cheese.

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