I was inspired to make a minestrone-like soup when I heard about the passing of Marcella Hazan recently. I didn’t dare actually call this a minestrone because it is not authentic. But it sure is tasty and quick! To prepare the leeks, I cut the white bottom ends off and then split the green parts in half length-wise. Separating the layers of green leaves, I rinsed them thoroughly under running water. Leeks can get really dirty and need to be washed carefully. Then I sliced the leek greens up into half-rounds. I planted the white ends in my garden where they are starting to grow new leaves. I didn’t measure all of the vegetables; my amounts are estimates.
2 tablespoons clarified butter
1 cup sliced leeks, green parts only
1/2 lb. ground beef
2 cups fire roasted tomatoes, preferably homemade
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup finely diced carrot
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1 cup chopped green beans
1 small zucchini, diced
a few sprigs each of whatever fresh herbs you have on hand – I used parsley, rosemary, oregano and chives
about 1 cup parsley leaves
about 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
about 1/4 cup best quality garlic oil
Melt the clarified butter in a large saucepan. When it is hot, add the leeks. Fry until they start to turn brown. Add the ground beef and stir over high heat until it loses its pink color. Add the tomatoes, wine, carrots, cabbage, and green beans. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Create a bouquet garni with the herbs. Tie them up with kitchen twine. When the soup is simmering, lower the heat, place the bouquet in the pot and put a lid on it. Simmer, stirring every once in awhile, until the vegetables are almost soft. Check the liquid level and add a bit of water if your soup is not soupy. About 10 minutes before serving, remove the bouquet and add the zucchini. Put the lid back on and cook until the zucchini is just tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Put a tablespoon of pistou on each serving.
Put the parsley in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add roughly the same about of parmesan cheese to the bowl as you have chopped parsley. Pulse a few more times. With the motor running, add some oil until you have a pesto-like consistency. Serve with soup!