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Late summer minestrone

late summer minestrone|pamela salzman

Oh, I am not very good at goodbyes.  And saying farewell to summer is just inevitable now, isn’t it?  My minestrone soup is one of those recipes that bridges summer and fall.  Zucchini and tomatoes are still plentiful in the farmer’s markets, but the weather is showing signs of cooling down.  We’ve had a few chilly and foggy beach days in the last week and that was my signal to make this favorite soup of ours.  The word minestrone means “big soup” in Italian.  To me it means, “use what you’ve got, ” especially lots of veggies.  No matter what, it’s always hearty enough to be called a meal, but light enough for the season.  My mom used to make it with elbow macaroni or the smallest of pastas, but I adore farro and find that it adds a heartiness that the pasta doesn’t.  Plus, it has more to offer in the way of fiber and protein.  Combined with white beans, this is a well-balanced meal that almost always makes its way into thermoses in tomorrow’s lunch box.  Have I mentioned lately that making school lunches is not my favorite morning pastime?  I know, I’m such a whiiiiiner.  But Daughter #1 is trying to be an overachiever this year and start school at 7:00 am.  Do you know what this means?  I need to be making lunch around 6:00 am OR I could just reheat minestrone five minutes before we need to leave the house.  Sounds like a plan!

As the seasons change, so does this soup.  I have used jarred tomatoes instead of fresh, and frozen shelled peas and cabbage for the zucchini.  Don’t be put off by the piece of rind from a wedge of Parmesan cheese.  It’s a little secret ingredient found in so many Italian kitchens.  One you see how delicious it makes this soup, you’ll never throw it out again!   My mom would make this soup or pasta e fagioli whenever we would come to the end of a piece of Parmesan.  In my house, my kids and husband love this soup so much that we buy buy the cheese just for the rind!  Mr. Picky even likes this soup.   His favorite thing to do is add a leftover meatball, chopped up into his bowl and he’ll have seconds, thank you very much.

late summer minestrone|pamela salzman

This week I will be harvesting almost all the basil and parsley in the garden and making a mountain of pesto to freeze in small quantities for the upcoming months.  At least I can make summer last a little longer in my own way.

late summer minestrone|pamela salzman


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5.0 from 4 reviews
Late Summer Minestrone
Serves: 6
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil + more for drizzling
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound of fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped or 1 14.5 ounce can, diced with juice
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • ¾ cup farro
  • Piece of rind from a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (if you have it)
  • 4 small zucchini, medium dice, about 4 cups
  • 1 ½ cups cooked white beans (e.g. cannellini, Great Northern), rinsed if canned
  • Handful of greens, coarsely chopped
  • Chopped basil leaves or pesto for garnish (optional)
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino-Romano cheese
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, and add the onions, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Do not allow the vegetables to brown.
  2. Add the tomatoes with the juice, parsley and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Cook for 5 minutes more, until the tomatoes are fragrant.
  3. Add the stock and 2 teaspoons of sea salt and bring to a boil. Add the farro and the parmesan rind and bring to a boil again. Lower the heat so that the soup simmers. Cook about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the zucchini and cook another 10 to 15 minutes, until the farro is tender but still has a little “toothiness.”
  5. Add the cooked beans and heat through. Add more stock, if desired.
  6. Add the chopped greens and stir until wilted. Adjust seasonings and serve with chopped basil leaves and freshly grated parmesan cheese and/or drizzled olive oil on top or a spoonful of pesto.



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  1. Can I sub rice for the farro? If so, how much rice?

    • Yes! Same amount listed in the recipe, but different cook time. White rice takes 18 minutes to cook and brown rice will take about 40 minutes.

  2. Love this recipe – it’s become a family favorite- i have only have half the amount of zucchini. Any recommendations for a vegetable substitute to add?

    • That’s so great to hear! You can use practically anything here such as asparagus, summer squash, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, or even frozen veggies. It’s a great recipe to use what you’ve got.

  3. Hi Pamela!

    Do you know if I could sub barley for the farro? Trying to take a page from your book and use up what’s in my pantry 🙂

    • Love that! Yes, feel free to use barley and adjust the cooking accordingly. There are different types of barley, so you may need 30 minutes or you may need an hour, depending.

  4. This soup is amazing! I added Trader Joe’s Brown Rice and Quinoa fusilli pasta the last 10 minutes instead of Farro. Currently home alone so eating my second bowl… it’s so good!

    • Very Italian of you to add pasta! 😉

  5. I love the Late Summer Minestrone soup as I do every recipe I have tried of yours. I am curious though, why don’t put the calorie content at the end of your recipes. Is there a reason for this?

    • That’s one of my favorite soups of all time! I don’t include the calorie count because I personally don’t count calories or macros. For the most part, all the calories in my recipes are good calories. But I also believe that counting calories prevents us from being in touch with our hunger and our bodies, for that matter. I also try to eat a varied diet of mostly plant-based foods and so far that has worked for me. I know there are people out there who need to know numbers of carbohydrate grams etc for medical reasons and there are many websites that can easily calculate that info. Thanks!

  6. I decided to make next Sunday’s dinner tonight and once again had rave reviews!! Delicious soup and I substituted brown rice for the faro to keep it gluten free. Once again… THANK YOU!!

  7. My men (son and husband) like pasta in their soup. Could. Omit the faro and add cooked pasta at the end?

    • absolutely! Since the farro absorbs some of the stock, you can either reduce the stock a smidge and add cooked pasta at the end OR leave the stock as is and cook the pasta in the soup at the end.

  8. Hi Pamela,

    Going to make this tonight! If I do not have flat leaf parsley, what can I use as a substitute? Thanks in advance!!

    • Assuming you do not have curly parsley, I would omit it altogether, use fresh basil or half the amount of dried parsley. The soup will still be wonderful.

  9. I love this soup and wanted to make it for a vegan friend of mine, I don’t have any veggie stock, do you think I could use water, instead?

    • Hmmmmmm……maybe you could simmer the veggies for a longer while before adding the farro just to get some extra flavor in there. Worth a shot!

  10. May I ask, how do u peel fresh tomatoes?

    • Excellent question! Please see this post here for Pasta alla Checca and halfway down there’s a photo collage of how to peel fresh tomatoes: Score and X on the bottom of the tomatoes with a knife. Place them in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water and peel!

  11. Making this “late summer” minestrone yummy soup that my family loves tonight even though it is only the middle of August! It is chilly and overcast in Southern Cal tonight and it was requested by both my girls tonight! They love it! Healthful, delicious, and easy! Thank you Pamela!!

    • Awesome, Lindsey! It is chilly here — perfect time to make this soup!

  12. This soup is delicious! Do you think it would freeze well?

    • I think you can freeze it, but I think the texture of the zucchini will change a little but. I say go for it!

  13. Soup is always a favorite in our house on cold nights. This is a surprisingly hearty minestrone soup and was a great meal with a nice crusty bread.

    • It’s definitely a meal in a bowl!

  14. I made your minestrone soup last night. It was very easy to make. The one ingredient that I did forgot to put in was the parmesan rind. However, the soup still tasted VERY good with the freshly grated parmesan cheese.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it without the rind. It does add something delicious, though, so try it with the next time.

  15. Just made this tonight on a cold and rainy night in Upstate NY. It turned out perfectly and reminded me of being home in my mama’s kitchen! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe and all others. I adore making them for my friends and trying to eat healthy-but so well!-for our last year of college. Thanks again!

    • Thanks, Carla. I used to love cooking for my friends in college, too! I love that you are making eating well a priority even though you’re so busy. Good for you!

  16. Does farro absorb liquids like pasta does? There never seems to be enough “soup” left when reheating the next day.

    • Yep, it does. It’s just like barley and rice. When I reheat a soup like this the next day, I just add a little extra stock (if I have it) or water.

  17. I am a big soup person. This recipe looks so delicious. I can’t wait to make it.

  18. Make it today! You’ll love it.

  19. This looks amazing!

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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