Winter is well and truly here in Melbourne, which means that soup is definitely on the menu again.
Minestrone soup is a well known, hearty Italian soup, which can be made in many ways with many different ingredients and I would like to share mine with you.
Minestrone soup can be made using any vegetables really, from potato and pumpkin to zucchini and squash, as well as carrot, peas and broccoli. There is always a carbohydrate component in minestrone soup, usually pasta or rice, and meat is completely optional. I have used bacon, but other recipes call for pork or pork rind (same animal!). Minestrone can often go gluggy or mushy the next day, which is due to the pasta or rice continuing to take on water, losing its structure. What I would recommend to avoid this is to cook the pasta or rice separately and add to each bowl before serving. If you have enough for leftovers, store the extra rice/pasta in a separate airtight container in the fridge and add to the bowl of hot soup just before serving.
I think that the key to this minestrone is the pesto. I added a teaspoon of bought pesto, although I have included the recipe for pesto below to each bowl, along with some shaved parmesan just before serving and it enhanced the flavours immensely.
The kids absolutely loved this soup, Mark even said “Mum, this is the best soup I’ve ever had” and asked a second bowl after his first was demolished in about 2 minutes. Claire enjoyed it as well and was asking for it for days after it was all gone….time to make some more!
This soup really is very easy to make, it uses up whatever vegetables are in the house, it is hearty, nutritious and filling and it is great for leftovers. You can serve it with crusty bread if desired, although, it is not necessary as there is already a carbohydrate component in the soup.
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 3 rashers bacon, fat trimmed and diced
- 2 leeks, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 parsnip, diced
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 150g savoy cabbage, sliced (purple cabbage also works)
- 1 large sprig rosemary, finely chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 1 tbs thyme, chopped
- 400g passata
- 2.5L chicken or vegetable stock
- 400g tin cannellini beans
- 150g spinach leaves, chopped
- 1 cup uncooked pasta
- Grated parmesan cheese to serve
- Pesto to serve (recipe below)
- 2 large handfuls of basil leaves
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 50g parmesan, grated
- 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- Make the pesto by placing all ingredients into a food processor and blending until smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the food processor and blend for a further 30 seconds. Place into a bowl and set aside.
- Heat a large pot with a lid over medium heat, add olive oil and bacon and fry for 2-3 minutes until the bacon begins to caramelise. Add the leek, carrot, celery, parsnip and cabbage and cook for a further 2-3 minutes to allow the leek to caramelise.
- Add the chopped herbs, passata and stock and season to taste. Bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and place the lid on, slightly ajar and simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to the boil and once boiling add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Once 30 minutes has passed, add the zucchini and cannellini beans and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the chopped spinach and cook for 5 more minutes.
- Place 1-2 tbs of pasta into each bowl and top with soup. Add a small handful of grated parmesan cheese and 1 tsp of pesto to each bowl and enjoy!