Minestrone with carrot top pesto

Serves 4 – 6.

A warming winter soup that uses up all the leftover veggies from an overly ambitious farmers market haul! I collect rinds from spent parmesan slabs in a jar in the fridge or freezer for adding depth to sauces and soups. Serve with carrot top pesto to ensure absolutely nothing goes to waste.

Gather —


1/4 jap pumpkin
1 clove garlic
1 brown onion
2 large zucchini
1 small bunch carrots (keep the tops for pesto), or 3 large carrots
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 500g jar good-quality tomato passata (I love Church Farm)
1 tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 parmesan rind (optional)
1L vegetable stock
100g short pasta like rigatoni, rotini or chi
2 large handfuls baby spinach
1 bunch basil
Olive oil
Salt, pepper

Carrot top pesto

1 small bunch carrot tops, about 2 cups
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup pine nuts
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan or nutritional yeast (if vegan)
Salt, pepper

Make —

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C
  2. Roughly chop pumpkin into cubes, spread on baking tray and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until softened
  3. Peel and finely chop garlic and onion
  4. Trim and roughly chop zucchini and carrots
  5. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan. Add garlic, onion, zucchini and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 15-20 minutes
  6. Add chilli, oregano, tomato paste, passata, cannellini beans, and parmesan rind. Tip in the roast pumpkin. Give everything a good stir and pour over stock. Season with salt and pepper
  7. Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes with the lid on. Stir occasionally, squashing pumpkin with the back of a spoon to thicken the broth
  8. To make the pesto, add carrot tops, garlic, pine nuts and lemon juice to a food processor and blitz to a chunky paste. Slowly drizzle in olive oil to reach your desired pesto consistency. Stir in parmesan and season with salt and pepper
  9. I like the soup nice and thick but if it’s too thick for your liking at this stage, add some water
  10. Add pasta to minestrone and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes, or until al dente
  11. Turn off the heat, add baby spinach and basil leaves and stir to wilt
  12. To serve, ladle steaming hot minestrone into generous bowls. Top with pesto and plenty of freshly cracked pepper.
Recipe by Zoe Cuthbertson, Undressed Byron Bay.