Minestrone is a robust vegetable based soup, the addition of beans and pasta makes it a complete meal in a bowl. Change the ingredients according to the season – for example if leek is expensive leave it out and add extra of something cheap- you can add cabbage, frozen beans or peas, in winter omit the capsicum and courgette and add some swede or cabbage.
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 3 fat cloves of garlic
- 2 stalks celery finely chopped (around a cup full)
- 1 leek quartered longwise and finely chopped- optional
- 2 rashers of bacon with the fat removed, chopped
- 2 courgettes quartered longwise and chopped-optional
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- ½ red capsicum finely chopped
- 2 carrots finely peeled and finely chopped
- 2 400g cans chopped tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 420g can white beans – Cannellini, butter beans, haricot beans…
- 1/3 cup soup pasta – risoni, orzo, alphabets, tiny macaroni, broken spaghetti
- a big handful of chopped parsley
- salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and toss in the onion, garlic, celery and leek and stir until beginning to soften. Add the bacon, cook for two more minutes.
Add the other vegetables and cook over a gentle heat for around 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to soften.
Add the tomatoes, stock, sugar, salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes, if you like your soup vegetables very soft cook them longer but I like them to retain their texture.
When the vegetables are tender add the beans, pasta and parsley and simmer a further 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking to the base of the pan. Taste and add salt or pepper as required.
Soup pasta usually refers to very small pasta shapes but use whatever you have, break up large pieces like spaghetti or just add some rice.