Minestrone soup

Homemade hearty minestrone soup topped with pesto and parmesan
Right now is a great time of year to be eating kale. Although it’s available all year round in it’s curly variety in most supermarkets, it’s in season between September and February and so at this time of year you might be able to get your mitts on some more interesting varieties. Plus, we’re all trying to be a little virtuous in January, and kale is a vitamin and mineral dense vegetable, packed with Vitamin C, calcium and beta carotene (which no-one really knows what it is, but hey-ho it sounds super healthy). The kale I’ve used in this recipe was grown by my dad at his allotment and is called cavolo nero (“black cabbage” in Italian, where the variety originates). If you can find cavolo nero to use in this recipe then great – it goes perfectly in stews and soups – but if not then use any kale or cabbage that you like.

This recipe is the godsend of all store-cupboard meals. I do think that the combinations below work particularly well, but the beauty is that you can use whatever veggies you have in the vegetable drawer, whatever meat (bacon, sausages, chorizo would all be great) you have in the fridge and any type of beans or pasta shape that you have in the cupboard.
Ingredients for hearty minestrone soup
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
100g (about 6 rashers) streaky bacon
1 white onion
2 medium carrots
2 celery sticks
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp tomato puree
1.5l vegetable stock
1 tin or carton of chopped tomato
6-8 large cavolo nero leaves
100g spaghetti
1 tin cannellini beans
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Optional topping suggestions: basil pesto, grated parmesan, chopped basil, chopped parsley, croutons

Method
1. Chop the bacon into small pieces.
Chopping smoked streaky bacon
Heat a little olive oil in a large pan and gently fry the bacon until crisp.
Frying smoked bacon
Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. Finely chop the onion and garlic, thinly slice the celery and dice the carrot.
Chopped vegetables for the base of a hearty minestrone soup
Fry altogether in the remaining bacon fat (topped up with a little olive oil if necessary) for 10 minutes until soft.
Frying the vegetables in the bacon fat
Softened vegetables for the base of a hearty minestrone soup
3. Stir in the tomato puree and then add the stock and chopped tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil.
Adding liquid to the hearty minestrone soup
4. Add the crisp bacon, kale, spaghetti and beans and simmer for 10 minutes. Check the seasoning and serve piping hot at the table
Adding the extras for a hearty minestrone soup
Adding the extras for a hearty minestrone soup
Bringing the soup to temperature
This soup will absolutely stand up as a meal in itself, but serve with some crusty bread and real butter for a special treat or to make the servings go further.
Homemade hearty minestrone soup served with sourdough bread and butter
I highly, highly recommend serving this with a generous dollop of fresh pesto. I had the idea because we had a half-used, shop-bought tub sitting in the fridge, leftover from pizza-making the night before, but it was such an amazing accompaniment that I had to whizz up some more the second night that we ate this soup. You can find my recipe for homemade pesto here – give it a go, you’ll thank me! A little grating of parmesan on top will also be welcomed here, as would chopped basil or parsley or even some crunchy croutons.
Homemade hearty minestrone soup for two
Do you have a go-to minestrone recipe? What are your favourite secret ingredients or toppings?

2 thoughts on “Minestrone soup

  1. Pingback: Mango ice-cream with raspberry ripple | The Proof of the Pudding

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