Indulge in a warming bowl of minestrone soup. This hearty and nutritious soup is a tasty crowd-pleaser and depending on what vegetables you have available to you, is very easy to tweak.
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 red onion
- 2 carrots
- 2 sticks of celery
- 1 courgette
- 1 small leek
- 1 large potato
- 1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans
- 2 rashers of higher-welfare smoked streaky bacon
- olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
- 1 litre organic vegetable stock
- 1 large handful of seasonal greens , such as savoy cabbage, curly kale, chard
- 100g wholemeal pasta
- 1/2 a bunch of fresh basil
- optional: Parmesan cheese
- Peel and finely chop the garlic and onion. Trim and roughly chop the carrots, celery and courgette, then add the vegetables to a large bowl.
- Cut the ends off the leek, quarter it lengthways, wash it under running water, then cut into 1cm slices. Add to the bowl.
- Scrub and dice the potato. Drain the cannellini beans, then set aside.
- Finely slice the bacon.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the bacon and fry gently for 2 minutes, or until golden.
- Add the garlic, onion, carrots, celery, courgette, leek, oregano and bay and cook slowly for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened, stirring occasionally.
- Add the potato, cannellini beans and plum tomatoes, then pour in the vegetable stock. Stir well, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon.
- Cover with a lid and bring everything slowly to the boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the potato is cooked through.
- Remove and discard any tough stalks bits from the greens, then roughly chop.
- Using a rolling pin, bash the pasta into pieces while it’s still in the packet or wrap in a clean tea towel.
- To check the potato is cooked, pierce a chunk of it with a sharp knife – if it pierces easily, it’s done.
- Add the greens and pasta to the pan, and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. This translates as ‘to the tooth’ and means that it should be soft enough to eat, but still have a bit of a bite and firmness to it. Try some just before the time is up to make sure you cook it perfectly.
- Add a splash more stock or water to loosen, if needed.
- Pick over the basil leaves (if using) and stir through. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper, then serve with a grating of Parmesan and a slice of wholemeal bread, if you like.
- Recipe from Jamie Oliver.