Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

This is a classic Italian soup, full of many different textures and vegetables. But it’s also a little bit more than a soup – it’s almost a main course that you can eat with crusty bread for lunch. The idea behind most soups is to cook them as quickly as possible to keep all the freshness in. This dish is a prime example of needing to cook all the ingredients gently first in the oil and then adding the stock while it’s boiling. This way you’re not stewing it for hours and losing all the goodness out of the vegetables. The thickener of this soup, although it’s got tomato purée and all the vegetables in there, is the starch from the pasta, so don’t panic if the soup looks a bit thin at first.

Serves 4 and it’s Gluten Free too!

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 250g pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 small swede, peeled and diced
  • 2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 medium leek, trimmed and chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 ltr chicken or vegetable stock
  • 100g spaghetti (use you favourite Gluten Free spaghetti, for a gluten free version of this recipe. You may need to adjust the cooking time slightly dependant on the time your particular brand takes to cook)
  • ½ a Savoy cabbage, shredded
  • 400g Tin of White Beans in Water (ie Cannellinni or Flagolet)
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Pesto

Method

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a large pan and lightly sauté the onion, garlic and rosemary until softened.
  2. Add the pancetta or bacon and cook without colouring for 3-4 minutes until the fat begins to come out.
  3. Add the carrot, swede, celery and leek and cook for 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften. Season the vegetables while they’re cooking in the pan.
  4. Add the tomato purée, stir, and continue cooking for 1 minute.
  5. Add the hot stock. Turn down to a simmer and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes.
  6. Put the spaghetti into a clean tea-towel and roll it up so you’ve got a sausage shape. Hold both ends tightly, then tap it over the edge of a table or work top so the spaghetti breaks into small even pieces.
  7. Add to the soup and simmer until the spaghetti is tender – it should take about 10 minutes. Add the cabbage, Beans and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes more.
  8. Check the seasoning, then serve the soup in bowls and eat…

To get that authentic Italian feel, top with a teaspoonful of pesto. Eat with crusty bread (like my Cheese Soda Bread), it’s perfect comfort food for a blustery day.

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