A Satisfying Summer Vegetable Stew to Enjoy the Fresh Harvest
The summertime is the perfect time to make delicious and satisfying soups and stews with the freshest produce that is in season. Here in Southern New Jersey, every summer we enjoy a wonderful variety of fruits and vegetables grown locally sold at farmers markets, roadside stands…or maybe even grown in your backyard if you’ve got a green thumb! The climate here is perfect for crops like tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, cabbages, corn and much more.
Being June right now, the first of the local vegetable crops are just starting to hit the markets and I’m feeling inspired to come up with new and creative ways to use them. That’s what lead to this simple summer vegetable stew, which is similar in ingredients and methods to a traditional Italian minestrone soup. But I’ve made a few changes like using local yams instead of white potatoes for a sweeter, summery taste. It’s also thicker as I use less broth, but if you wanted a thinner soup that could easily be adjusted with this recipe.
For a truly rich and satisfying flavor, try to use fresh, homemade stock if possible. When I made this stew, I had just recently prepared some Roasted Pork Stock with leftover backbones which was absolutely delicious, thick and full of flavor – nothing at all like the thin and basic canned variety from the supermarket. You can use chicken, pork or vegetable stock for this stew, whichever you prefer and have on hand.
You can also just use this recipe as a springboard for your own summer vegetable stew…just use whatever fresh veggies are on hand and try to balance out the textures and colors.
Summer Vegetable Stew
Preparation time: 15-20 minutes
Total cooking time: about 1 hour
5 cups stock (preferably homemade)
1 can chick peas, drained
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 white onions, chopped
1/2 green or savoy cabbage, leaves coarsely chopped
2 zucchini or summer squash, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and chopped
4 to 6 fresh large tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped (or 2 cups whole canned plum tomatoes, drained)
1 cup small pasta (baby shells, ditalini, fideos, tripolini, etc)
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Fresh grated cheese (your favorite)
1. In a large stock pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and cook over low-medium heat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Add all other vegetables: cabbage, zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes and tomatoes. Cover pan and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are beginning to soften.
3. Add the chick peas and toss well with the vegetables; cook for another 2 minutes.
4. Add the stock and bring just up to a boil. Add the soup pasta and cook until the pasta is done, according to package directions (and your taste!) This may take 15-20 minutes.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Ladle into bowls for serving and top with fresh grated cheese.