Walking around the farmer’s market and looking at all the fresh produce is one of my favorite things to do once the growing season has really kicked in. This time around, my fiancé and I found some gorgeous fava beans and fresh spinach that we knew we wanted to do something with, and I wound up coming up with this recipe for a green, spring produce-oriented minestrone. I think it would be awesome with some baby zucchini mixed in, or you could do half the fava beans and add in some creamy cannellini beans for added textural notes. It’s a flexible recipe, and a simple one, but the acidity from the wine and the fresh, subtle flavors of the herbs gives it a real depth of flavor, and the lightness of the final dish make it appetizing even in hot weather. This would be a great meatless meal, but also works as a nice side or appetizer.
3 TBSP butter
4 shallots, chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 lb fresh fava beans, removed from pods, blanched, and shelled
1 lb fresh spinach, finely chopped
¼ cup tiny pasta, such as ditalini, pre-cooked to just shy of al dente (omit for low-carb)
1 handful of fresh herbs, such as thyme, tarragon, parsley, or chervil, minced
1 handful fresh basil, chopped
Fresh grated parmesan (optional), for garnish
Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat and add the shallots, carrot, celery, and a healthy dose of salt and pepper. Allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, to really develop their flavors. Once they’ve softened and taken on a little color, add the white wine and stir well to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, lower to a bare simmer, and let cook for another 10-15 minutes. Double-check that the carrots and celery are fork-tender, and give more time to cook if any of them are still too crunchy.
Add the fava beans, spinach, and pasta, stir well, and let cook for another minute or so, until the spinach has wilted. Stir in the fresh herbs and serve immediately, topped with some fresh grated parmesan if desired.