This Chorizo, Pinto Bean, and Potato Minestrone recipe post was sponsored by VCTC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Spring is here! Spring is here! And it is my favorite time to go to the Farmer’s Market.
Although we are blessed with a bountiful market year round here in sunny California, the colors that emerge in spring are always breathtaking: Purple cauliflower, verdant peas, blood-red beets, the market is like a natural rainbow for the eyes that reignites my passion for cooking fresh foods all over again.
I am thrilled to be partnering with Ventura County Transportation Commission on this post because I am a huge supporter of public transit and absolutely love how easy it is to hop on the bus and head to the Farmer’s market. The VCTC intercity buses only cost $1.25 per ride and drops you off footsteps from either Ventura Farmer’s Markets. So if you are a local or visiting from out-of-town the VCTC buses are a great way to get around.
Last Saturday the family and I caught the HWY 101 Conejo connection to the Beach near the pier and then walked to the farmers market. I was blown away with all the colorful veggies. We stocked up on spring’s first peas, green garlic, avocados, purple cauliflower, asparagus, and some kettle corn (of course).
I thought a perfect way to eat all the beautiful veggies at once (because who wants to choose?) is to fit as many as I could into a hearty Latin-inspired minestrone fleshed out with creamy pinto beans and chewy, salty cured wedges of chorizo (Hiro calls them sausage pizzas :).
Although Chorizo, Pinto Bean, and Potato Minestrone calls for specific vegetables, these really are just suggestions. Whatever you find in your markets now could be easily substituted if you keep the heartier root vegetables like carrots and potatoes in added in the beginning and the softer, more delicate vegetables like asparagus or peas added towards the end so they don’t overcook.
Vegetables aside, here’s the key to making soup taste good—salt. If you’ve ever made soup and thought to yourself, eh? It’s because you didn’t add enough salt. Soup is basically water and it takes a lot of salt to make water taste like anything but, well, water. So add a teaspoon or so at a time and keep tasting until it tastes good. If you go too far with the salt you can always add more water or lemon juice to cut down on that side as well. Keep experimenting and playing—that’s half the fun!
Thank you to VCTC for nudging me to take the bus more! Since hopping the bus to the Ventura Farmer’s market, we’ve also taken the Coastal Express to Santa Barbara—clean (!), free wi-fi (!), no traffic (!), $3.00 (!!) Whether you’re visiting Ventura County or you’re a local, check out their transit routes and schedules and see where the bus can take you!
What To Serve With The Soup
Photography by Dana Miquelon
- 1 cup dried pinto beans
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 ounces cured Spanish chorizo, cut in quarters then sliced into 1/4-inch thick wedges
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 cup white wine
- 12 ounces small yellow potatoes, about 6 small, peeled and chopped
- 1 28-ounce can chopped fire-roasted tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups small cauliflower florets, whatever color you'd like
- 2 cups Tuscan kale, chopped, tough stems removed
- 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- Cover beans in water and soak at least an hour or best, overnight.
- Heat oil in a large, heavy pot with a lid over medium heat. Add chorizo and lightly fry until crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon. Keep pot over the heat.
- Add onions and carrots to the oil and fry until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook a minute more. Add wine and deglaze the pot by scraping any browned bits off the bottom. Bring to a boil then add potatoes, tomatoes, and broth. Drain the beans and add them to the pot.
- Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook until beans are tender, about an hour.
- Add cauliflower, kale, and peas and let cook 2-3 minutes. Add dill and cilantro and season soup with salt. Start with about a teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Taste and add another 1/2 teaspoon or so of salt if it doesn't taste amazing yet.
- Taste again, add more pepper and salt, if needed. Add a little water if it is too thick, then taste again and adjust salt and pepper once more until you've reached perfection.
You can substitute canned beans for the dried. Drain and rinse 2 (15 ounce) cans and add them along with the cauliflower at the end of the recipe. Cut the cooking time at the beginning of the recipe down to 30 minutes.
PIN IT FOR LATER
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Do you take the bus? To commute to work or to get around town? Did you know VCTC also has an extensive system of bike paths too? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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