Minestrone

The essentials are tomato, some pulses and pasta – beyond that the choice of vegetables is up to you. It’s a great soup for when you want to use up bits and pieces of veg. It’s easy to end up making a lot – best to do it when you have several people to feed on the first day! It keeps well though.

  • A tin of mixed beans, white beans of some sort or some dried lentils – the whole kind, not the split kind. Chickpeas are also possible, but I don’t think that kidney beans really work. If you are using dried lentils they will need to cook a bit first before you add everything else
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes – or fresh if you like
  • Pasta – something small and preferably intended for soup (ie won’t go mushy) pasta stars are the best. Macaroni can work though.
  • Half a vegetable stock cube
  • Some olive oil
  • Brown sugar
  • Mixed herbs
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt or shoyu

A mixture of a few of the following veg (basically anything that won’t go too mushy, don’t think aubergine or sweet potato would work for instance).

  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Carrot
  • Butternut squash
  • Celery (great for flavour)
  • Mushrooms
  • Cabbage
  • Peas or green beans – fresh or frozen
  • Sweetcorn – fresh or frozen
  • Leeks
  • Potato
  • Broccoli
  • Courgette
  • Cauliflower

Cut the veg into fairly small pieces – not tiny, but so that you are going to eat 3-4 different bits of veg in each spoonful. Ideally fry some or all of the veg first – in small batches. But it can work just chucking everything except the pasta into the pot and cooking it up. If you do that, still put in some olive oil for flavour. Herbs, shoyu and a little bit of brown sugar (always good with tomatoes) and lemon juice to taste. Cook for 10 mins or so, longer if you have not fried the veg first.

Then add the pasta and cook for the amount of time it says on the packet. Make sure there is enough water when you put the pasta in and stir it a few times – the pasta tends to stick on the bottom of the pan. You don’t need a lot of pasta – it is easy to overdo it.

If it’s not important for it to be veggie you can add some bits of fried bacon or chorizo, or use a chicken stock instead of the stock cube.

Grated parmesan on top is good – or some chopped fresh herbs.