Winter Vegetable Cooking ~

Bringing fresh food to local TV

(Subscribers, please click HERE to view the video from your e-mail)

I’m excited to say that 2012 is starting off with bringing fresh and locally sourced food to local TV. And you don’t have to live in Montgomery, AL, to join in the fun! With host Judd Davis, let me show you how simple it is to prepare a fresh meal for yourself, friends and family. It’s as simple as soup—Italian minestrone. Lots of fresh vegetables, chicken stock and squash make this a hearty soup, perfect for a weekend lunch or a healthy Sunday dinner.

Watch the video above to see how quickly it comes together and see the recipe below to start cooking it now!

Buon Appetito~


Winter Squash with Vegetables Minestrone

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 small to medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 medium potatoes, peeled, diced into 1/2-inch-thick cubes

2 cups diced squash (such as Pie Pumpkin, Sweet Dumpling, Acorn, or Butternut), 1/2-inch-thick cubes

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 6- to 8-inch sprig fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 cups canned, low-sodium chicken stock (homemade chicken stock is preferred)

1 (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 small- to medium-sized zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch-thick half rounds

2 cups, firmly packed, chopped collard greens (shredded cabbage may be substituted)

2 tomatoes, deseeded, diced into 1/2-inch-thick cubes

1/2 cup ditalini, tubetti, or other small-shaped pasta

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. When hot, add the onion and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, until the onion has started to turn translucent. Add potatoes, squash, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper, stirring well to combine. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until the potatoes and squash just start to color. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the beans, zucchini, collards and tomatoes, stirring until combined. Return to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low again and simmer for another 10 minutes. Stir in the pasta and cook, uncovered, for an additional 8 to 10 minutes, until the pasta is al dente – tender, but firm to the bite. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper. Serve with a sprinkle of grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil as garnish.

Serves 8 to 10 servings.

About the Author

Mark LeslieMark Leslie, seen cooking on NBC’s "The Today Show" and Hallmark Channel's "Home & Family," loves to cook for anyone with an appetite, vacations in Italy every year, and lives to eat his way through every plate of pasta and cone of gelato placed before him. His first book, “Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family,” tells of his life in Italy while cooking with an Italian grandmother. He shares his food experiences on his blog at and has taught cooking classes in California, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, and across Alabama. While judging for high school culinary events, he was chosen by the US Department of Education to judge for their "National Education Startup Challenge." Mark can be regularly seen cooking on NBC-affiliate, WSFA-TV 12's "Alabama Live! each Friday, bringing easy, locally sourced recipes to central Alabama. His iTunes app “Beyond the Pasta” features helpful videos and more of Nonna’s family-style recipes that she shared with him, plus, upon its release, it was named “New & Noteworthy” by Apple. DaVinci Wines chose Mark as their "2012 Storyteller" in Language Arts—where they sent him to Vinci, Italy, to write about wine, food and life. Mark, his home and book have been featured in such national publications and blogs as House Beautiful, Paula Deen, Food Republic, The Kitchn, Apartment Therapy, Field & Stream, and The Daily Meal. A Chicago-area native and “Yankee” by birth, Mark has lived in Alabama for over 24 years, and celebrates the fact that he started life eating farina, progressed to grits, and finally arrived at polenta. Buonissimo!View all posts by Mark Leslie →

"Beyond the Pasta" is owned and operated by Mark Leslie. Unless otherwise specified all content, writing, recipes and photography is original and held in copyright through the Library of Congress. It may not be used without the express written consent of Mark Leslie.