Saturday, 14 February 2009

Recipe time! End of the week minestrone

Inspired by Mrs Green's yummy tomato and chickpea soup recipe the other week, here's what I had for lunch. It just so happens that we had done our weekly shop and so had all the ingredients fresh, but it's something that would work really well at the end of the week when there are only a few slightly wizened carrots and some floppy celery lurking in the salad drawer.

Tinned tomatoes (maybe with herbs), beans and stock cubes are top store cupboard items and to be honest you could add most sorts of veg to that and make a good soup! One of the best ever investments we made was a big cooking pot - I swear we use it 6 times a week for stew, soup, curry, chilli, spag bol.... you name it. You can probably tell we are of the "bung it in the pot" cooking school rather than nouvelle cuisine!

Minestrone soup - serves 4 hungry people or 6 polite ones :)

1 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, well smashed
2-3 carrots, diced small
2-3 sticks of celery (including leaves if you like), chopped
8-10 outer leaves savoy cabbage, shredded
(of course, you can increase or decrease the quantities of all the veg according to what you have)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin beans (cannellini, black eye, whatever you have)
600ml (ish) stock
salt, pepper, mixed herbs to taste

Optional additions:
2 rashers bacon, chopped - or any leftover cold meat e.g. chicken, ham
2 tsp pesto (really makes a difference to the flavour)
4 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
handful of pasta - small shapes are great - good use for broken spaghetti!
fresh herbs - we had some sage left over from another recipe
croutons made from stale bread

Sweat off the onions and garlic with a little oil, the pesto, and a bit of water or stock if needed to keep things from sticking. Add bacon (if using) and cook through. Add carrots and celery and some more of the stock. When the carrots are starting to soften, add the rest of the stock, tomatoes, cabbage and beans, dried or fresh herbs, pasta and any other ingredients you're using. Simmer for 10 minutes or so, check the softness of the veg and the seasoning, and cook longer if needed.

Serve with fresh bread, croutons if you like, maybe save some fresh herbs (if using) or celery leaves to sprinkle on the top if you want to be posh! :)


  1. well how weird is that?! I made minestrone soup last week too! Recipe will be on the site this week.

    Yours sounds yummy. I love the idea of the croutons.

    Mrs G

  2. We didn't have minestrone but a ham and vegetable broth. I used a leek, a parsnip, mushrooms and green savoy cabbage left over from last week's organic box. Then there were cubes of bacon from a packet of Sainsburys offcuts. A couple of handfuls of a broth mix (split peas, lentils & barley) and a few teaspons of Marigold bouillon powder were stirred in to a kettleful of hot water. Half an hour later we were supping hot soup while watching Scotland lose to the French in the Stade de France. You can't win them all!

  3. Thanks Mrs G and Gai - just shows that soup is an infinitely variable and versatile thing! I look forward to comparing minestrones :) Ham and vegetable broth sounds delicious, and very comforting with the addition of the pulses.

  4. Sounds yummy, Just Gai - I'll be playing with that recipe myself :)