Well, my promises of summer salads have gone decidedly pear-shaped due to many factors, not the least of which is the fact that the weather has been incredibly unlike summer. Mom Strati continues to hold out hope that September is going to be our summer month this year, and I can’t help but join her in the optimism. If anyone in Chicago remembers Halloween last year, I am envisioning that weather all autumn. It might make the trees a little crazy, but I think that it would be heavenly. Anyway, since the air these days is more like the upper reaches of Canada than the sweltering heat of Florida, soup seems to be in order. Minestrone has always been a bit strange to me, because it uses a lot of fresh vegetables that are in season during the warmer months, but it is a hot soup that seems out of place in the midst of the swelter; this summer, however, is perfect for it!
Since we finally made it to the farmers’ market last weekend, we were able to pick up fresh green and wax beans, zucchini, and yellow summer squash. Delicious. I don’t think that there are any real rules to making minestrone, so you should use whatever vegetables you like. From what I have read, it was invented as a way to use fresh vegetables and any leftovers, pantry items, or canned ingredients you might what to throw into the mix. All of the ingredients in the following recipe are what I almost always use, bumping up the quanties of some when they are abundant, and pulling back on them when they are not. I encourage you to cook with your eyes on this one and try to create the most colorful and appealing soup you can. Start with the soup base and then take over from there with whatever you find at your local market or produce section. As you see in the picture, we added a little spoonful of homemade pesto just before eating; it may be soup, but it tastes like summer.