A Vitamin Packed Summer Minestrone...Because Someone's Having a Baby!

Yes!!  Someone is having a baby!

And...it's not me. (Just thought I needed to clear that up.)

I received this delightful invitation (below) in the mail to attend a "virtual" baby shower for a new-mom-to-be who lives in my newly adopted "home away from home"...

Austin, Texas.

Shelley, of the adorable blog Franish NonSpeaker will be the proud Mommy to a baby girl who will make her debut in August.  They've named her Ruby (my grandmother's name) and I'm sure they are getting impatient while waiting for her to arrive into their world.

We all decided to get together and plan a "virtual" baby shower of recipes that Shelley can prepare "ahead" of Ruby's birthday.  With some frozen dishes tucked away, she should get off to an easy, comforting, and healthy start with her new family.

I wanted to prepare something seasonal for Shelley that is packed with all the goodness of summer.  I thought a nice Minestrone soup would be a good option for her.

She can make use of all of the abundance of zucchinis, yellow squashes, and tomatoes that are loaded up in the markets right now.

When I make this soup, I make a huge batch at one time.  I take those containers from our local Japanese restaurant when we bring udon soup home, and fill them up with soup.

Several go into the freezer and several stay in the fridge for quick lunches throughout the week.

What a way to pack vitamins, minerals, and fiber into mommy as well as into baby Ruby.  Summer goodness all in one steaming bowl of flavorful soup.

I am assuming Shelley is "nesting" somewhere inside where there is icy cold air conditioning!  I know that is what we are doing. 

Shelley lives in the awesome city of Austin, Texas where my daughter will be attending college.  We just spent last week getting to know the campus and the city.  

We tasted the succulent barbecue of the popular Franklin BBQ (see my review here)and I have so much more coming on "Thyme" that will highlight her super cool city.  

So, here is to the healthy arrival of baby Ruby!

A healthy summer vegetable-packed minestrone soup to see them through the first days of life as they adjust to the  arrival of a sweet bundle of baby girl cuteness.

Please have fun peeking into the other "shower guests" to see what they will suggesting for Shelley so she can get off to a good start with the baby.  Each day this week, these sites will offer up their suggestions.  Here is a list of the guests:

Summer Minestrone:
(Serves 8)

6 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, minced
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato paste
6 cups peeled and chopped rip Italian plum tomatoes
3 cups trimmed and roughly chopped zucchini
3 cups trimmed and roughly chopped yellow zucchini
3 waxy new potatoes, diced (optional)
4 garlic gloves, crushed
2 1/2 quarts vegetable stock or water
8 tablespoons shredded fresh basil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and cook slowly for about 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly, until soft.

Stir in the sun-dried tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, zucchini, diced potatoes, and garlic and cook slowly for 10 minutes, uncovered, shaking the pan frequently to stop the vegetables from sticking to the base.

Pour in the stock or water and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat, half cover the pan, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are just tender.  Add more stock if necessary.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil and half the cheese.  

[At this point, the soup can be served chunky.  If a smoother, creamier soup is desired, then transfer the soup in batches to a blender.  Add a touch of cream, 1/3 cup,  if you like the soup creamier]

Serve the soup hot, chunky or creamy, sprinkled with remaining cheese, shredded basil, and salt and pepper!