Letty's Minstrone Soup with Basil Pesto

15 March 2012

Letty Flatt is the executive pastry chef for Deer Valley and has been for several decades. She is the author of the book Chocolate Snowball, a collection of irresistable sweets and baked delights now enjoying it's second printing. But at home she cooks vegetarian fare and welcomes the break from baking. So here is a savory, vegetarian recipe from one Park City's most venerable pastry chefs for a change of pace. Note: this recipe is loosely based on one from the book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by one of Letty's heroes (and ours) Deborah Madison.

Makes about 10 cups of soup

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 carrots diced
  • 1 cup celery diced
  • 1 quart canned tomatoes (or two 14.5 ounce cans of diced tomato if you don't have any preserved.)
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked lentils (or other cooked beans)
  • 2 cups cooked pasta (orzo or other small pasta or lasagna cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 Tablespoons basil pesto

Heat the oil in a soup pot or pressure cooker. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently over medium-high heat until just golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots and celery. Keep stirring and cook about 5 more minutes. Add the tomatoes, vegetable stock, bay leaves and salt. Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes. Or, if using a pressure cooker, lock the lid in place and bring to high pressure over high heat. Lower heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and reduce pressure immediately.

Meanwhile strip the kale leaves from the tough stems. Boil the kale in salted water for about 10 minutes. Drain and chop coarsely.

Remove the bay leaves. Add the kale, beans and pasta. Taste and season with more salt and pepper. Stir in the pesto just before serving.