My husband and I picnic about three seasons out of the year. We fill a backpack with bread and cheese, or maybe a sandwich, and a bottle of white wine. If I plan ahead, sometimes I will bring several courses, including a small dessert. I make sure to grab all of the necessities - napkins, forks, cups and most importantly, a wine bottle opener.
A thermos filled with leftovers makes for great spontaneous picnic food. I often keep extra cooked pasta on hand, storing it separately from any sauce so that I can quickly toss it into a salad, or a soup in this case.
Keeping with the spring theme, this minestrone soup pops with bright yellow carrots, orange heirloom tomatoes and green peas. The spring leeks, garlic and fresh herbs are light and flavorful. The parmesan and pasta are optional, but a nice touch should you find the cupboard devoid of either bread or sliced cheese for your afternoon picnic.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 leek, white part only, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 medium white or yellow carrots, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 cup orange or yellow heirloom cherry tomatoes
1 can white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups turkey or vegetable stock
1/2 cup frozen, peas
2 sprigs fresh oregano, thyme or rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, optional
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup cooked quinoa, brown rice or wheat elbow macaroni, optional
In a large sauce pot, heat the oil on medium high. Sauté the leeks, garlic, carrots, and celery until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, beans, bay leaf, wine and stock. Lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Gently crush the tomatoes with a fork or snip with a pair of scissors. Turn off the heat and immediately add the peas. Stir in the remaining ingredients and ladle into bowls for serving.
Yield: 4 servings