For people who care about their food

Minestrone Soup

A bowl of minestrone soupThis isn’t a recipe for an authentic minestrone soup. I don’t know what an authentic one is but every cookbook I looked at seemed to make it in a completely different way.

My version was to look at some pictures and have a “use it or lose it” day with the contents of the vegetable drawer in the fridge. Most recipes recommended using a ham hock, which I didn’t have, to provide the stock so I improvised by using some smoked streaky bacon rashers as well as a home-made vegetable stock which I’d made and frozen on my previous “use it or lose it” day.

Ingredients

(serves 4 as a starter or 2 hungry people as a meal in a bowl)

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • as many cloves of garlic as you want
  • 1 carrot, cut into nice chunky pieces
  • leek, washed and sliced
  • some pasta (I used spaghetti)
  • 1 tin of plum tomatoes
  • 1 pint of stock
  • a bay leaf
  • rashers of smoked streaky bacon for extra flavour, snipped into strips…
  • …and anything else you have which you want to use before it gets elderly such as, potatoes, green beans, mushrooms, capsicum peppers, etc, etc

Method

First sweat off the onion and garlic in a little oil in a suitable pan. Peel and chop the carrot and add that to the pan.

Meanwhile wash and chop the other vegetables. Start with those which will take longest to cook, so if you’re using potatoes start with them.

When the onion is soft and translucent, add the contents of the tin of tomatoes and the stock. Bring the soup to the boil and then simmer. Add the snipped bacon.

As it’s simmering, add the other vegetables – adding those that take longest to cook first and ending with the quickest.

You’ll need to use your own judgement about when in the process to add the pasta, depending on how long it’s likely to take to cook it. I added mine after the slower cooking vegetables and before the faster ones.

Simmer gently until everything is cooked to the desired doneness (about 20 minutes).

Serve. It doesn’t need anything else. It’s a meal in a bowl.

Other ideas

Veggie version

Omit the bacon and add a veggie stock cube for extra flavour.

Low fat version

Use rice instead of pasta? I don’t know – I’m a cook, not a nutritionist.

Hungry yachtsman or other outdoor enthusiast’s version

Use small shapes of pasta or break up the spaghetti into shorter pieces. For extra calories add some grated Parmesan cheese. Put in a thermos flask, if required, and serve in a mug.

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