The River Cafe's summer minestrone

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The River Cafe's summer minestrone


  • 2 1/4 lbs (1kg) thin asparagus
  • 3 1/2 lbs (1.5kg) fresh peas , in their pods
  • 4 1/2 lbs (2kg) fresh young fava beans , in their pods
  • 2 garlic cloves , peeled and chopped
  • 1 small head celery , chopped
  • 3 small red onions , peeled and chopped
  • 4 tbsp (60ml) olive oil
  • 1 lb (450g) young green beans , trimmed and chopped
  • about 4 1/2 cups (1L) chicken stock
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh basil leaves , finely chopped (or marjoram or mint)
  • 1 1/4 cups (300ml) heavy cream
  • 5 ounces (150g) Parmesan , freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) pesto


  • Trim or snap off the tough ends from the asparagus spears, then cut the tips and tender parts into ½-inch (1cm) pieces. Shell the peas and fava beans.
  • In a saucepan, sauté the garlic, celery and onions gently in the olive oil until soft— about 10 minutes.
  • Divide the asparagus, peas, fava beans and green beans between two bowls. Add one bowlful to the onion mixture and cook, stirring to coat with oil, for 5 minutes. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Cover with the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the remaining vegetables and cook for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the basil and cream. Stir. Cool to room temperature, then serve with Parmesan and pesto.

Excerpted from River Café London: Thirty Years of Recipes and the Story of a Much-Loved Restaurant by Ruth Rogers, Rose Gray, Sian Wyn Owen and Joseph Trivelli. Copyright © Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray 1995. Published in the United States by Borzoi Books an imprint of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.