Red Winter Minestrone with Winter Greens Pesto

The soup itself gets that lovely red color from beets. In Italy, minestrone can be made with just about any seasonal vegetables, and beets are no exception. I kind of want to call this soup borschtestrone. But bringing down the wrath of both Jewish and Italian grandmothers worldwide can be hazardous to your health.

This recipe was submitted by Herbivoracious in collaboration with the OxBox Project, food bloggers creating delicious recipes featuring Oxbow vegetables.

  • 1/4 C + 2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil (divided)
  • 1 White onion, finely diced or grated
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 handful Parsley leaves
  • 1 pinch Chili flakes
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 tsp Minced rosemary leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Leek, white and light green parts, cut into 1/2″ wide half-moons and well-washed
  • 1 med Carrot, peeled and cut into 1/8″ thick circles
  • 1/2 lb Turnips, peeled and cut into 1/3″ cubes
  • 1 lb Beets, peeled and cut into 1/3″ cubes
  • 1 C Dry white wine
  • Handful of green beans, cut into 1″ lengths
  • 2 C Cooked white beans (cannelini or similar) — reserve 3 cups of the cooking liquid if you cooked them yourself (recommended)
  • Optional: lemon juice



In a big soup pot, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, tomato, garlic, parsley, chili flakes, bay leaf and rosemary and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Keep cooking until you’ve got a well caramelized, somewhat uniform base (sofrito). This will probably take at least 20-30 minutes.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and the leeks, carrot, turnips and beets. Raise heat to medium-high again. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the white wine and deglaze (scrape) the bottom of the pot with your spatula to dislodge any delicious browned bits. Cook for 2 minutes to boil off most of the alcohol. Add the green beans, white beans, and 3 cups of the bean cooking liquid and 2 cups of water (or, failing that, 5 cups of water). Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for a few more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. It will certainly need more salt, and you might also like a squeeze of lemon juice.

Divide among heated bowls and serve with a generous dollop of the winter greens pesto, which the diner can stir in.

For The Winter Greens Pesto (makes more than you need for soup)
  • Greens from 1 bunch beets
  • Greens from 1 bunch turnips
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 ounce parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set up a large bowl full of ice water. Strip the beet greens, turnip greens, and kale from their coarse stems and wash them well. Put each bunch, one at a time, into the boiling water, and cook until they turn bright green and fairly limp. Use tongs to transfer immediately to the ice bath (where they can all swim together.)

Remove from the ice bath and squeeze out as much moisture as possible.

Puree the greens, olive oil, garlic, cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a blender. Taste and adjust seasoning, then reserve in the refrigerator, covered directly on the surface with plastic wrap.