If you're intrigued by the speckled borlotti beans at the farmers' market, this minestrone is the perfect excuse to grab a few pounds. The hearty soup is flexible by nature—think of the ingredients as mere suggestions. Didn't find borlottis? Use butter beans instead, or canned versions of either. No escarole or kale in sight? Toss in another leafy green—say, mustard greens or chard. Last, stir in cooked pasta; any shape you can eat with a spoon will do! 

Martha Stewart Living, September 2021


Credit: Marcus Nilsson

Recipe Summary

25 mins
1 hr 15 mins
Serves 4 to 6


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Combine shelled beans, fennel bulb, whole shallot, halved carrot, and smashed garlic cloves in a medium pot; add water to cover by 2 inches. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until beans are creamy in centers, 40 to 50 minutes. Season to taste toward end of cooking.

  • Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice bath. Using a paring knife, lightly score bottom of each tomato with an X. Add tomatoes to boiling water and blanch until skin pulls away, 20 to 30 seconds. Transfer to ice bath. When cool enough to handle, peel tomatoes, remove seeds, and coarsely chop. (You should have about 2 1/2 cups.)

  • Heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high until shimmering. Add chopped fennel and shallot and sliced carrots; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are golden in places, about 5 minutes. Stir in minced garlic; cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring, until toasted, 1 minute more. Add chopped tomatoes; cook until tomato juices reduce slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in pole beans and water or stock; season. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and partially cover. Simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors meld, about 30 minutes.

  • Cook pasta in a pot of salted boiling water until al dente; drain. Stir 2 cups cooked shelling beans into soup; season with salt and vinegar to taste. Just before serving, stir in greens. Divide pasta and soup among bowls, and serve with a drizzle of oil and sprinkles of parsley and red-pepper flakes.

Cook's Notes

Dried Calabrian chiles are worth seeking out for this vegan soup. Crushed and sprinkled over each bowl just before serving, they add a sweet, floral heat.

You can use any variety of fresh shelling beans you find at late-summer farmers' markets, like dragon's tongue, borlotti, or scarlet runner. Enjoy leftover cooked beans on toast, or tossed in a salad.