Summer minestrone

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There might be a lot of chopping here, but this recipe is child’s play and the result is special enough to warrant the extra effort. The cream adds a certain silky richness but can be left out if you prefer. This is lovely served cool the next day.

Preparation Time: 15 Minutes
Cooking Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 French shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 200 g (7 oz) young broad beans, podded weight, skins removed
  • 200 g (7 oz) young fresh peas
  • 150 g ( oz) green beans, sliced
  • 250 g (9 oz) asparagus spears, sliced
  • 950 ml (33floz) vegetable stock or good-quality bought stock
  • a handful each of mint and basil leaves
  • 4 tablespoons thick (double) cream
  • 4 tablespoons fresh pesto, to serve

Method

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and soften the garlic, shallots, celery and fennel. It should take about 10 minutes.

Add half the broad beans, peas, green beans and asparagus. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about 25 minutes.

Add the remaining vegetables to the saucepan and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat and pour in a little extra boiling water if the soup appears too thick for your liking. Add the herbs and cream and season to taste.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and drop a spoonful of pesto into each to serve.

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