A wonderfully flavorful and vibrantly colored soup that’s not only healthy but comforting.
The Peruvian minestrone or Menestrón is a blend of Italian and Peruvian cuisine. It was brought to Peru in the 1500s by Italian immigrants who had a huge influence on Peruvian cuisine, making this a Peruvian adaptation of the Italian minestrone.
In contrast to the Italian-style minestrone – a tomato-based velvety red soup – the Peruvian Menestrón is a mix of native ingredients like potato and cassava, butter beans, or chickpeas. And a nice piece of beef tenderloin or beef stock is substituted for the usual vegetable broth.
Rather than the traditional iconic red color from tomatoes, Peruvian minestrone’s pesto has a vibrant, beautiful earthy green color. This warm broth is characterized by a creamy, deliciously umami pesto made of basil, parmesan, spinach, garlic, and sometimes feta cheese.
Served with your choice of pasta, this tasty pesto-veggie-beef broth is truly delectable. An easy, filling, and healthy dish that can be prepared in just a few minutes. During colder weather, Peruvian Menestrón will warm you up with every sip.
Can you use any pasta for the Menestrón?
In addition to penne, you can also use linguine, spaghetti, or any other available pasta, including gluten-free, high-fiber, and high-protein versions. Be sure to check the broth often to add more broth or water if the pasta has absorbed too much liquid.
Can the vegetables be substituted?
This soup is versatile enough that we can make it with many vegetables. Add sweet potatoes to replace potatoes, chickpeas with red beans or butter beans. Remove carrots, string beans, or cabbages and replace them with leftover vegetables from the fridge such as green beans..
Be sure to keep the main aromatics, such as garlic and onion, and the pesto. You can substitute arugula or any other greens you prefer for the spinach in the pesto. The pesto should contain basil and cheese as its main ingredients. Alternately, you can substitute another form of meat for the beef, replacing the broth to complement the meat used.
The ingredients list
- Oil – for sautéing
- Garlic – the main aromatic for the pesto.
- Onions – gives the pesto a hint of sweetness.
- Beef tenderloin – a tasty high-protein slab of meat
- Beef broth – the base of the dish.
- Salt and Pepper – add as much as needed.
- Basil – makes the dish lively and flavorful.
- Spinach – adds color to the pesto and fiber into the dish.
- Parmesan – a salt replacement for the pesto
- Feta – adds a creamy texture.
- Cabbage, potato, carrot, string beans, celery, and corn – fillers which make the
- Menestrón colorful.
- Chickpeas – a common and easy-to-find ingredient for the Menestrón.
- Penne – can be replaced with different types of pasta.
- Water – to be added in the event that the vegetables and pasta absorb most of the liquid.
- Depending on the type or thickness of beef, the sautéing stage can take as little as 5 to 10 seconds or up to a minute. When the beef changes color, flip it over. Add the vegetables only after all sides have browned.
- Add your chosen vegetables from the slowest-cooking to the fastest-cooking. This is to help prevent the vegetables becoming mushy, resulting in a dish with an unappealing look and texture.
- Minestrone can be safely stored in an air tight container once it has cooled or reached room temperature. In the fridge, this can last for a week or two, and in the freezer, it will last for up to a month. When reheating, let the soup thaw a little and then microwave it or warm it in a pot. You may have noticed that most of the soup has been absorbed by the pasta, while this makes the pasta taste more flavorful, if you want that soupy texture back, simply add more broth or water, around 12 cups at a time. If you are worried that the pasta may get soggy if it is kept together with the broth, either separate the two and reheat them separately or add the pasta back once the soup is warmed.
A soothing bowl of Peruvian Menestrón will warm up your nights and make you feel at home.
Peruvian Minestrone Soup
For the Pesto
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons garlic chopped
- 1 medium red onion sliced
- 1 ½ cup basil
- 1 cup spinach
- ½ cup parmesan
- ⅓ cup feta
For the Broth
- 500 to 700 grams beef tenderloin sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup potato chopped
- ½ cup carrot chopped
- 6 cups beef broth
- ⅓ cup string beans chopped
- 1 can chickpeas
- ⅓ cup corn
- 1 small cabbage shredded
- ⅓ cup celery chopped
- 500 grams penne or any type of pasta
- water as needed
For the Pesto
- In a pan at medium heat, add oil and sauté in the onions till translucent. Add the garlic and cook till aromatic.
- Add the aromatics in a blender with the basil, spinach, Parmesan and feta.
- Blend till smooth and set aside.
For the Broth
- In a bowl, season the sliced beef with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In a pan at medium heat, add oil and cook the beef slices. Flipping once this turns brown, or slightly changes in color.
- Add in the chopped potato and carrots. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes or till the potatoes are soft.
- Pour in the broth and bring to a simmer. Removing any scum from the surface. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Mix in the string beans, chickpeas and corn. Simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add in the cabbage and celery, mix well and let this simmer for 3 minutes.
- Add the penne or pasta of your choice. Cook as per the instructions on the package or till al dente. Make sure to check the soup often, adding more broth or water if the pasta has absorbed most of the liquids.
- Add in the pesto mixture and let this simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.
- Serve garnished with feta or Parmesan.
Peruvian foodie. I’ve been writing about the food of Peru for over 10 years. Read more about the Eat Peru team here
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