Green Minestrone soup with pistou: a hearty, healthy and delicious version of the classic Italian recipe with a French twist. Post sponsored by Volkswagen.
Soup, at first glance, doesn’t really seem to be the kind of thing you would take on a road trip. But, given the fabulous thermos and flasks that you can get these days, it actually makes great portable food, especially if you are planning a long drive or walk in winter. This version of minestrone soup brings together the traditional Italian recipe, gives it a fresh green twist, and combines it with pistou which is of French origin. Pistou is a kind of pesto made with basil leaves, oil, garlic and a bit of cheese. Similar to pesto but without the pine nuts, it livens up soups and can also be used to brush bruschetta or as a salad dressing. Basically, it is totally addictive!
Minestrone is endlessly customisable – you can use whatever fresh produce you have to hand. This version has leeks, celery, courgettes, peas and sugarsnap peas to go with the green theme. I used black eyed beans because I happened to have some but cannelini or haricot beans are a better match so have adjusted the recipe accordingly. The ingredients should be added into the soup according to how long they need to be cooked – bearing in mind that the pasta also needs about 8-10 minutes to become al dente. So if you are adding courgettes and asparagus or green beans make sure to add them towards the end otherwise they will become mush.
Since the pistou originates from France it usually uses cheese like Mimolette which is not easy to find in the UK. I have replaced with Parmesan but you can also use aged Gouda. Traditionally it also contains tomatoes but I like a bright green sauce so I have left them out. If you are in a hurry you can use store-bought pesto as a topping for this soup but it won’t taste quite the same!
Keep an eye out for more ‘road trip’ recipes on the blog and make sure to check out the collaborative Pinterest board from Volkswagen for more inspiring DIY projects, recipes and ideas.
- 2 large shallots finely diced
- 2 sticks celery leaves included, finely chopped
- 1 large leek white part only, finely diced
- 2 small carrots peeled and finely diced
- 2 courgettes zucchini, cut into small cubes
- 1 can cannellini beans 400g /14oz, drained and rinsed
- Handful sugarsnap peas sliced on the diagonal
- 150 g | 5oz small pasta shapes such as stellini
- 150 g | 5oz fresh or frozen peas
- 1 1/2 litres | 6 3/4 cups vegetable stock
- 2-4 tbps olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- For the pistou
- large handful basil leaves
- 50 g | 2 oz Parmesan cheese grated or finely sliced
- 3 cloves garlic peeled
- 3-4 tbsp virgin olive oil more as needed
- 1/2 tsp salt
- To make the pistou, put all the ingredients in a blender or mini chopper and blend. If it is too thick, add a little more olive oil or a little hot water.
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and then sauté the shallots, celery and leek for 5 minutes over medium-low heat. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Add the carrots and continue to cooke for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the stock, beans and stir. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are soft and soup has thickened slightly.
- Add the pasta and peas and cook according to packet instructions - usually about 8-10 minutes. Add the courgettes five minutes into the pasta cooking. Add the sugarsnap peas right at the end.
- Serve drizzled with the pistou and some crusty bread.