This post is part of the “Be a Blessing” series, devoted to providing simple recipes, ideas, and tips in order to care for others when they need it most.
Bright, fresh, packed with veggies, and instantly comforting—this Fall Vegetable Minestrone hits all the criteria of a healthy fall soup. I created it when I was in need of a vegetarian soup recipe for a friend, and it delivered.
The key to the bright, fresh flavors of this soup are two ingredients: lemon juice added to the soup after cooking, and a spoonful of basil pistou stirred in as it’s being served.
So what’s pistou? It’s the French version of Italian pesto. The French version doesn’t employ Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or pine nuts like the Italian version. Instead it contains just four simple ingredients: garlic, fresh basil, olive oil, and salt.
The first step to create the pistou is to blanch the basil leaves. You’ll submerge them in boiling water for 15 seconds before dunking them into ice water to cool them quickly. Then you’ll dry the basil with a clean kitchen towel to remove the excess water.
Then the basil goes for a spin in the food processor with garlic, olive oil, and salt. The result is a fragrant, flavor-packed sauce for stirring into the fall vegetable minestrone.
The minestrone starts with a classic base: celery and onions. I left out the carrot because the next ingredient is sweet potatoes! They add such a gorgeous color and fall flavor to the soup.
The sweet potatoes take about 15 minutes to cook in the veggie stock, and then you’ll add butter beans, fresh spinach, fresh thyme, and lemon juice at the end.
I chose butter beans frankly for something different. They’re larger than most white beans—about the size of a quarter. Cannellini or great northern beans would work here, too.
The spinach is added at the very end to prevent it from overcooking in the heat. Kale would be a great substitute, though it may require a few extra minutes!
This Fall Vegetable Minestrone would be a great dish for a chilly day, or for gifting to a vegetarian friend. I paired it with this Pull-Apart Garlic Bread. If you make the bread for a vegetarian friend, make sure that they are ok with the Parmigiano Reggiano, which is not technically vegetarian (though there are many vegetarians who eat it). You can also find vegetarian parmesan cheese. This minestrone, however, is completely vegetarian and even vegan!
More recipes from the Be a Blessing series:
Simple Baked Ziti
Cinnamon Streusel Apple Bread
Easy Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
Authentic Mexican Rice
White Chicken Chili with Potatoes and White Beans
Super Flaky Southern Biscuits
Pull-Apart Garlic Bread
Fall Vegetable Minestrone with Basil Pistou
For the soup:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery finely chopped
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock + 1 cup water
- 1 large sweet potato peeled and chopped into ¼ inch cubes
- 2 15.5 oz cans butter beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 bunch spinach leaves removed and roughly chopped (can substitute kale or swiss chard)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the pistou:
- 2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 3 garlic cloves peeled
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
For the soup:
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and celery is soft, about 3–4 minutes.
- Add the vegetable stock and water and increase heat to high. Bring the stock to a boil and add the sweet potatoes. Reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the sweet potato is almost tender.
- Stir in the beans, chopped spinach, thyme, lemon juice, and salt. Cook for 1 minute, or until the spinach is wilted. Remove from the heat and ladle into bowls. Serve with a spoonful of pistou.
For the pistou:
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Prepare a medium sized bowl with ice water.
- Place the basil leaves in the boiling water. Let cook for 15 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove the basil and place the basil into the ice water. Let sit for 30 seconds in the ice water.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the basil from the ice water and place on a clean kitchen towel. Pat dry with another clean kitchen towel. Gently roll the basil up in the towel to dry it some more (don’t squeeze as the basil is easily bruised).
- Place the garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until chopped. Add the olive oil, salt, and basil. Pulse gently, just until combined and the basil is chopped into tiny pieces (it doesn’t need to be completely smooth). Pour the pistou into a small bowl and serve a spoonful with each bowl of soup.