In August, I do quite a bit of canning, but no matter how many batches I do, it doesn’t take long to use them up. So, I like to take a jar of my own and mix them with a couple cans of Muir Glen’s (and I can say with 100% confidence, Muir Glen is the only canned tomato I buy).
My go-to is their fire roasted tomatoes, but for this spring soup I wanted something lighter, a tomato with some finesse, so I went to their Arabella Select Plum Crushed Tomatoes. They are gorgeous and almost kind of regal.
I love minestrone any time of year, and it’s fun to have the soup reflect the flavor of the season. When I eat foods in harmony with the season, every cell of my body seems to come alive. Fresh English peas and fava beans are abundant right now. Coming across them was like seeing dear old friends I hadn’t seen in a long time–so I invited them to dinner. What I love about this soup, which is an easy weeknight dinner, is how light and brothy it is. I also enjoy creating a paleo version by removing the legumes, using cauliflower rice instead of white rice, doubling the mushrooms, and adding baby carrots or baby squash.
Crisp Spring Minestrone Soup
- 2 quarts homemade chicken stock
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 3 large shallots
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 cup mushrooms, sliced (we used Shitake, but use your favorite)
- ¼ cup scant white rice
- 6 asparagus, heads intact then sliced into approx. 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 cup fresh fava beans* (shucked, blanched, and peel removed), or fresh English peas (shucked), or both
- 1/2 of a 23 oz. jar of Muir Glen Arabella Select Plum Crushed Tomatoes
- Parmesan, grated for sprinkling
- Parsley, for garnish
Warm the chicken stock then turn the heat off and cover. (Check out this 45-minute homemade chicken stock recipe that is absolutely worth the time and can easily be done ahead and frozen)
Heat the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once the butter melts, add the shallots and sauté for about 4 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium, add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour the warmed chicken stock into the pot (making sure to scrape all the bits of loveliness from the bottom of the pan) and bring to a boil. Then add the rice and lower heat to a simmer, so that it is moving steadily and slowly, but not a full boil. Stir to combine and cook for 15 minutes.
As rice is cooking, prepare an ice water bath in a bowl. Blanch peas and asparagus in boiling water for 1 minute, drain, and immediately transfer to ice bath. As soon as they are cool, drain, set aside on a paper towel, and pat dry. Pull your shucked, blanched, and peeled fava beans out of the refrigerator and get them room temperature. (To make this easier, you can blanch the vegetables in the morning and set aside dried, in an air tight container or a bag in the refrigerator. If blanching feels like a step beyond what you want to do, then when the rice is finished cooking, toss the peas and asparagus in the pot and cook for 2 minutes before turning off. I prefer the crisper, blanched vegetables).
Once the rice is fully cooked, about 15 minutes, pour 1/2 jar of Arabella Plum Tomatoes in and stir.
Serve immediately – ladle the hot soup into a bowl, add a serving of the room temperature blanched vegetables, and top with grated parmesan and parsley.
*Fava beans are in season for such a short amount of time, so take advantage of the moment. Fava beans come in a green pod. First you shell them. Then, the individual beans have a skin around them so you need to blanch for 2 minutes, ice, dry, then peel the skin off carefully. They’re a little bit of work but they are divine and absolutely worth it. This part of the recipe you can do a day ahead, just be sure they are completely dry before you store them in the refrigerator.