6 ¼ cups stock or water (I use vegetable broth)
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 leek, sliced
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into small dice
1 bay leaf
1 spring fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¾ cup peas, fresh or frozen
2-3 small zucchini, finely chopped
3 tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
2 cups cooked or canned beans, such as cannellini
3 tablespoon pesto sauce (see below)
Salt and ground black pepper
1 - In large saucepan, heat the stock or water until it reaches simmering point.
2 - In another saucepan heat the olive oil. Stir in the onion and leek, and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until the onion softens.
3 - Add the carrots, celery and garlic, and cook over a moderate heat, stirring often, for a further 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
4 - Pour in the hot stock or water, and stir well. Add the bay leaf and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly, and leave to cook for 10-12 minutes more.
5 - Stir in the peas, if fresh, and the finely chopped zucchini and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Add the frozen peas, if using, and the chopped tomatoes. Cover the pan, bring slowly to the boil, then simmer the mixture for about 5-8 minutes.
6 - About 20 minutes before serving the minestrone, remove the lid, and stir in the beans. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the pesto sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Simmer for a further 5 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Allow the soup to stand for a few minutes, to bring out the flavors, then serve in warmed bowls.