Over the past few weeks, emails have been trickling into my inbox with urgent subjects like “End of Summer Sale!” and “Last Call Before Fall!” Target already has Halloween junk on display and Gap is trying to sell me turtleneck sweaters and flannel shirts.
My question is: What’s the big rush? Fall doesn’t start, officially, until September 22nd — weeks away from now. Not to mention that September is usually the finest month of the year where I live in the Northeast – lots of sun, blue skies and low humidity, which in my opinion, make the best beach days of the entire season.
We’re at the peak time for fresh, local produce RIGHT NOW. No matter what the world of retail is telling us, it’s still summer and I’m not ready to let it go. As much as I hate to admit it (hands over ears LA-LA-LA-LA) a chill is going to settle in the air soon. This soup is my gentle segue into autumn – there’s nothing better than feeding denial with something good to eat.
This soup can be easily adapted to suit the season and the vegetables you have on hand - try replacing some or all of the zucchini with a few handfuls of fresh spinach leaves, or a cup of trimmed green beans and chopped ripe tomato. Also, tender young fennel bulbs are in the markets now (and I prefer its delicate flavor to celery), but feel free to use 2 chopped celery stalks instead.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 leeks, white part only, quartered lengthwise and sliced
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 fennel bulb (fronds reserved for garnish), tough outer leaves removed, finely chopped
- 3 carrots, sliced into thin coins
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans
- Kosher salt
- 2 small zucchini (preferably 1-inch diameter) quartered lengthwise and sliced
- 1 cup ditalini pasta
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves
- Parmigiano or grana padano cheese
- Pour the oil in a large saucepan or pot and place over medium heat.
- Add the leeks, onion, fennel and carrot and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently so they don't brown.
- Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cannellini beans, 6 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a simmer. Adjust the heat and continue to cook at a gently simmer for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a separate pot of boiling water until al dente - drain and reserve.
- Stir the zucchini into the pot and cook until crisp-tender. Add the pasta and parsley.
- Taste and season with more salt as need. Serve the soup garnished with chopped fresh fennel fronds and grated Parmigiano cheese.