With summer nearly at an end, I decided to celebrate the change in season by stirring up a giant pot of Italian vegetable soup, full of the bits and pieces left in my friends' gardens and passed along to me: zucchini, green beans, a couple of potatoes, fennel, kale, a few heads of garlic. This soup welcomes most stragglers, in any amount, so if your garden didn't give you fennel, but did leave you with more than a few zucchini, simply use what you've got. I added canned tomatoes, which are always on my pantry shelf, but if you have fresh tomatoes, or your own home-canned stewed tomatoes, by all means use those instead. If you're gluten-free, omit the couscous. Vegans can skip the parmesan cheese. And busy moms or dads can make a batch of this soup at the beginning of the week, and add leftover chicken or turkey sausage to make quick school night dinners.
Italian vegetable soup
From the pantry, you'll need: extra virgin olive oil, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, canned chopped tomato, kosher salt, fresh black pepper, Dijon mustard, Israeli couscous or orzo.
Serves 12; can be halved.
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1-1/2 cups diced potatoes (I use fingerlings, Yukon Gold or red-skinned new potatoes)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
1/2 cup diced celery
1 large carrot, diced
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 large zucchini, diced
4 cups chopped kale
2 cups diced green beans or snap peas (or some of each)
28-oz can chopped tomatoes
1-2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
8 oz sliced cremini or white button mushrooms
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh black pepper
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind, or 1/2 cup grated cheese
1/2 cup Israeli couscous, or orzo, or other small pasta
In a large stockpot, heat the oil over low-medium heat. Add the onions and potatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Stir in the garlic, fennel, celery and carrots. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring now and then.
Add the Italian seasoning and (optional) red pepper flakes. Then, add the zucchini, kale and green beans, and cook for 2 minutes.
Pour in the chopped tomatoes, mustard, mushrooms, salt and pepper, and parmesan cheese rind (or grated cheese). Stir to combine everything.
Add 3 cups of water.
Cover the pot, and turn the heat to high. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.
Sprinkle in the couscous, and continue to cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes, until the couscous has plumped.
Taste, and season with more salt and pepper, as needed.
Serve hot; or cool completely, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. For longer storage, pack cooled soup into air-tight containers, and freeze.
More vegetable soup variations:
Tomato vegetable soup with cheese ravioli
Tomato, zucchini, white bean and basil soup
Slow cooker curry carrot and lentil soup
Kale (or broccoli) soup with bacon and cheese
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Sautéed kale with grape tomatoes, garlic and parmesan, from For the Love of Cooking
Summer vegetable tian, from Budget Bytes
Penne with fresh tomato and zucchini, from Chinese Grandma
Grilled zucchini and eggplant parmesan, from Cookin' Canuck
Slow cooker recipe for skinny tomato basil parmesan soup, from 365 Days of Slow Cooking
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