Minestrone with Pesto Sauce | Soups and Stews

Adapted from Wolfgang Puck Makes it Easy


1/2 cup navy beans, soaked and drained
4 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp evoo
2 ounces pancetta, chopped
28 oz crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 small potatoes, cubed
1 medium zucchini, cut into small pieces
3 springs fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup pesto sauce (recipe follows)

*This soup can be cooked on the stove, but cooking it in a pressure cooker increases the flavors.  


Heat pressure cooker over medium heat, add oil and pancetta, browning about 5 minutes.  Remove pancetta pieces, leaving liquid behind.

Stir in tomatoes, 3 cups of broth, beans, carrots, parsley, zucchini, thyme, salt and pepper.  Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes.  Allow pressure to release, adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Serve topped with pesto sauce and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Pesto Sauce
Adapted from Cuisines of the Alps


1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup evoo


Combine basil and cheese in a food processor and process until relatively smooth.  With motor running, add in evoo in a stream until desired consistency.


Falafel is one of those things that you stumble upon.  I had a lunch with a girlfriend at a mediterranean restaraunt and she suggested that I try it.  Of course, I loved it.  The first time that I saw it on a menu when I was out with Forrest, I suggested he try it.  And, so, a love affair began.

Adapted from Cooking Light Way to Cook Vegetarian


  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup uncooked bulgur
  • 4- 15.5 oz cans chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup chopped each- fresh basil and parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped each- fresh sage & thyme
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • Cooking spray


To prepare falafel, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan; add bulgur to pan. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Combine chickpeas and the remaining ingredients, except cooking spray, in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until well blended and smooth (mixture will be wet). Spoon chickpea mixture into a large bowl; stir in bulgur.

Divide mixture into 12 equal portions (about 1/4 cup each); shape each portion into a 1/4-inch-thick patty. Place patties on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 15-20 minutes or until browned.

Tuscan White Bean Stew

This stew is warm, comforting, and super simple.  You can use dried cannellini beans in place of the canned, as long as you cook them ahead of time.

Tuscan White Bean Stew
adapted from Food to Live By


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cans cannellini beans
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt 
  • freshly ground pepper


  1. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat.  
  2. Add bacon and cook until crispy, about 5 mins.  Remove the bacon bits, but keep leave the grease in the pot.  Add carrots and cook about 5 mins.  
  3. Add the stock, 2 cans beans, tomatoes, rosemary, salt and pepper; bring to a boil.  
  4. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer gently until heated through.  
  5. Meanwhile, puree remaining can of beans and stir into soup.  
  6. Add the balsamic vinegar and top with bacon bits..  Serve hot.

Pumpkin, Black Bean, And Corn Chili

With Forrest out of town for a few days, I decided to make myself some chili.  I wanted to use ingredients that I had on hand, so I came up with the idea to make black bean chili.  I consulted Dara over at Cook in Canuck, because I’ve liked some of her soups before.  As luck would have it, she has a great recipe for Smoky Black Bean and Corn Chili.  I used her recipe as a template and modified it to both fit my tastes and what I had in my pantry.  While this isn’t a traditional “chili,” it hit the spot to satisfy my craving!

Pumpkin, Black Bean, & Corn Chili
Adapted from Cook in Canuck


  • 3/4 pounds dried black beans, cooked with water in pressure cooker
  • 2 10 oz bags frozen corn
  • 1/2 of a 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chipolte powder
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • sour cream
  • spicy cheese blend
Combine all ingredients except sour cream and cheese in a large dutch oven.  Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until heated through.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cheese.

Pumpkin Gnocchi

I never thought I could love gnocchi more than I already did.  Then Forrest made me Pumpkin Gnocchi and I was in love.  Then I made Pumpkin Gnocchi and saw how much easier it is than potato gnocchi and I was in love.

Pumpkin Gnocchi
Adapted from The Foodess


  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup flour (approximately), plus more for hands and work surface
  • 3 tbsp butter


Set a large pot of water to boil. In a medium sized bowl, combine pumpkin, egg, salt and nutmeg. Add the flour in several additions, stirring to combine. Continue adding flour until the dough is firm enough to handle, but still somewhat sticky.  I find it easier to gently knead the flour in by hand.

With floured hands, pinch off about a quarter of the dough. Roll between palms and on floured work surface to make a 1-inch thick rope. Cut rope rope into 1-inch pieces. Repeat with remaining dough.  Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes to help it hold together when boiling.

Drop gnocchi into boiling water and cook until they rise to the surface, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large, heavy saucepan. Cook, stirring frequently, until butter browns and emits small puffs of smoke.

Drain gnocchi on paper towels, then add to brown butter and stir to coat.

Serve with sauce of choice or on it’s own topped with salt and parmesan cheese.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Mozzarella

Tomato plants love dry heat, so ours have been thriving with this heat wave.  As Forrest doesn’t eat raw tomatoes, and there’s only so many Caprese salads that I can eat in a day, I started to plan other ways to use the bounty, which of course led me to tomato soup.  There’s something about roasting the tomatoes first that brings out the best flavors.  Don’t let that part scare you, it actually makes the soup easier, but it does take a bit longer.

This recipe is easily adaptable based on the ingredients you have on hand.  I typically follow strict measurements, but in this case, it’s really just a work as you go kind of recipe.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Mozzarella

6 lbs. fresh tomatoes- any variety will do
vegetable oil
fresh ground pepper
1 cup fresh basil leaves
32 oz. chicken broth
3 fresh bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. shredded mozzarella


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut tomatoes into quarters or halves, depending on size.  Place tomatoes on foil lined baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for about an hour, or until caramelized & browned.

Pour tomatoes and juices into a blender, add basil leaves and puree.  I then poured them through a strainer to get out the seeds, but this isn’t necessary.  Pour puree into a medium pot, add about half of the chicken broth and bay leaves, stirring to combine.  Continue to add stock until desired thickness is reached.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add salt and pepper to taste.

Place handfuls of shredded cheese on a parchment lined baking sheet, making sure the cheese is piled, but not too high.  Place under broiler until browned, about 5 minutes.  Let cool slightly to become crispy.

Garnish soup with mozzarella and enjoy!

Black Bean & Beet Burgers

I’ve never had a veggie burger.  Despite 10 years of not eating red meat, I never gave one a chance.  Now that I am a full fledged carnivore who tries to eat less meat, I’d been dying to try a veggie burger!  After scouring my cookbooks and the internet, I complied this recipe using leftovers that I had in my fridge.  I was shocked with how simple and delicious it was.

While this recipe couldn’t compete against my favorite bison burger, it holds it’s own to any healthy, average weeknight meal.

Black Bean & Beet Burgers

-1 cup beets, roasted, cooled, & shredded
-1 cup black beans, cooked & cooled
-1 cup brown, black or wild rice, cooked & cooled
-¼ cup oats
-½ cup wheat germ
-¼ cup Italian seasoning
-1 tbsp salt
-freshly ground pepper


1.  In the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the blade attachment, gently pulse all ingredients until thoroughly combined.  Place the mixture in the fridge for at least a half an hour to chill.

2.  Form perfect patties using a parchment covered baking sheet, a large cookie scoop, an English muffin ring, and an oiled spoon.  Drop 2 scoops on mixture into the ring on top of the parchment.  Lightly press mixture into ring with the spoon.  Gently remove ring, using your finger to prevent the mixture from tearing at the edges.  Otherwise, just shape them with your hands.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 and a cast iron skillet on medium high.  Pour a thin layer of oil into the skillet and, once the oil is hot, gently turn a burger or two into the skillet.  Cook about two minutes on each side, allowing the mixture to “brown.”  Place burger back onto parchment covered baking sheet, top with cheese, and finish heating in the oven until cheese is ooey gooey.

4. Serve on a toasted bun with your favorite toppings.