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.
- COOK 1 Hour 20 Minutes
- LEVEL easy
- BATCH Serves 8
- 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
- ½ 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
- ½ 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.