PREP TIME – 30 MIN
PORTION SIZE – 4
Minestrone soup is an Italian classic. This version adds fennel bulb and leeks to white beans and green peas. This dish is rich with vitamins A, C and K along with high levels in minerals and protein.
• 1 head garlic
• 1 medium yellow onion
• 1 medium fennel bulb with fronds
• 2 medium or 4 small leeks
• 6 tablespoons EVOO
• 1 bay leaf
• 8 cups water
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 medium lemon
• 1 (15-ounce) can white beans
• 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
Halve 1 head garlic down its equator to expose all the cloves. Quarter 1 medium yellow onion (do not peel). Coarsely chop 1/4 cup fennel fronds. Quarter 1 fennel bulb, then cut the core out of each piece. Set aside the core and the outermost layer of each piece. Thinly slice the remaining fennel.
Coarsely chop the dark green parts from 2 medium or 4 small leeks until you have 2 cups, then rinse thoroughly. Halve the light green and white parts of the leeks lengthwise, then slice crosswise into 1/2-inch wide half-moons. Place in a medium bowl, cover with cool water, and swish vigorously with your hands to loosen any dirt; set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and onion pieces cut-side down and cook until dark golden brown, flipping the onion halfway through so that it browns on both cut sides, about 5 minutes total. Add the fennel core and outer layer, the dark green leek parts, 1 bay leaf, and 8 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, then cover partially, leaving a crack for steam to escape. Simmer until the broth is browned and fragrant, 30 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon, then cut the lemon into wedges. Drain and rinse 1 can white beans. Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until shimmering. When it shimmers, add the sliced fennel and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Carefully lift the light green and white parts of the leeks from the water, being careful to leave the grit in the bottom of the bowl, and add them to the pot. Add the lemon zest and 1 teaspoon kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are soft, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
When the broth is ready, strain through a fine-mesh strainer set over the pot of leeks; discard the solids in the strainer. Add the beans and remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt to the soup, bring to a gentle simmer, and cook 10 minutes. Add 1 cup green peas and simmer for 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in the fennel fronds. Serve with grated parmesan cheese (optional).