If you are lucky enough to have a garden or farmer’s market nearby, it’s a great time to explore for vegetables you haven’t tried before or get the freshest ingredients listed here. No farmers? No worries! Frozen, canned, or bagged ones will do just great since they are packed at the peak of freshness anyway. You won’t miss a thing. Canned tomatoes are great here if you don’t have fresh on hand. Besides, you would have to blanche and peel fresh ones before you could use them. I’m not a glutton for extra work and I’m guessing you aren’t either. There’s no shame in a can.
As if there’s anything that could top off a bowl of perfectly cooked summer vegetables—we’re going to make this even easier with the help of your slow cooker. Four hours or so and your light lunch or dinner will be nearly ready. You’ll want to add some of the most tender vegetables—like the spinach and asparagus—in the last 30 minutes of cooking to avoid making them mushy. Just say no to the mush.
Use any pasta you want, but a short one like ditalini (used here), penne or even bow ties would work just fine. Just don’t get tempted to dump in more than the recipe calls for. Remember they will expand and you don’t want a bowl of pasta with vegetables. They are supposed to be a supporting act, not the star.
Top off your summer minestrone with a sprinkling of good quality Parmesan cheese (to take us back to this soup’s Italian roots) and a slice or two—okay, maybe four—of crusty bread. Dip, scoop and devour this light summer soup. Any leftovers can be frozen (without the pasta) or reheated later as needed.