Zuppa di Primavera, or Italian spring soup, is the essence of spring in a bowl. Chock full of sugar snap peas, fava beans, asparagus, and haricots verts, this bright soup is an awesome way to use up your vegetables from the farmers market.
When it comes to Italian-style soups, pasta and grated cheese are two staples that I always keep nearby. Adding pasta to a soup can help to thicken the broth and cheese always adds extra depth of flavor. Just as mother nature comes to life again, make a big pot of my Zuppa di Primavera to celebrate the start of spring.
Zuppa di Primavera
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, sliced into thin rounds, separated into rings, rinsed well and drained thoroughly
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- 9 cups homemade or store-bought chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup dried semolina soup pasta, such as tubetti
- 10 spears medium asparagus, trimmed and angle-cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 1/4 cups fresh fava beans (from about 1 pound pods), briefly blanched
- 1/2 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed and angle-cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 pound haricots verts, trimmed and halved crosswise
- 1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
- About 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 4 teaspoons Basil Oil, recipe below
- 1 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, washed
- 3/4 cup cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- In a medium pot over moderate heat, warm the olive oil. Add the leeks, carrots and garlic, cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are almost tender, about 10 minutes.
- Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Partially cover the pan, lower the heat slightly and cook 15 minutes. (The soup base can be prepared up to 3 days ahead and will be the better for it. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Return the soup to a simmer before proceeding).
- Stir in the salt and the pasta; cook 5 minutes. Add the asparagus, fava beans, sugar snap peas, and haricots verts and simmer another 5 to 7 minutes, or until the pasta and vegetables are just tender. Remove from the heat, stir in the basil, cover and let stand 1 minute.
- Adjust the seasoning. Divide the soup among bowls and drizzle in 1 teaspoon of Basil Oil per bowl. Serve immediately, passing the cheese at the table.
- Note: In a pinch, frozen baby lima beans can be substituted for the fava beans.
- Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Place the basil leaves in a medium-sized mixing bowl and fill up another medium-sized mixing bowl with ice water.
- Pour the boiling water over the basil, making sure the basil is completely submerged. Keep in the hot water for 15 seconds and then, using tongs, transfer the basil leaves to the ice water bath.
- Once completely cold, strain the basil out of the ice water, squeezing the excess water out of the basil, and placing it onto paper towels.
- Place the basil, olive oil, and salt in a blender and process until smooth. It will be slightly frothy, so let stand for 30 minutes so that any solids can separate from the oil. Pour over a cheese cloth lined fine mesh strainer. It will take some time to fully strain out, but you can gently push the oil through as much as you can with a spoon to make the process go a bit faster.
- This can be made up to a week ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator. Return to room temperature before using. Makes about 3/4 cup.