Wednesday, 31 October 2012

(sort of) minestrone

This is a 'sort of' version of minestrone based on the ingredients I already had in the house and to use up the small amounts of left over pasta that were taking up space in my food cupboard. My recipe changes all the time but the basic principles remain the same. I'm a great believer in trying to avoid wasting food and saving money so feel free to vary the quantities and types of veg depending on what you like and already have around. Ideally I would have liked to add some celery but this worked out fine without. The pesto addition is non-essential but great if you can do it. It really lifts the dish to something special. You can always use shop-bought but homemade, fresh pesto is without equal in my opinion.


400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 large soup bowl of finely diced vegetables (I used 2 onions, red and green peppers, 2 carrots and a courgette)
2 handfuls of dried pasta, if they are different size break them up so that they are similar sizes - this will help them cook at the same time.
approx 8 large cabbage leaves, sliced
2 handfuls of green beans
Parmesan or pecorino cheese rind (if you have one)
2 tbsp oil
1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
selection of herbs (I used 2 bay leaves, some dried oregano and asprig of dried rosemary)
salt and pepper to taste

Homemade pesto for serving.

Heat a large saucepan over a medium high heat, add the oil then the bowl of diced vegetables. Cook until soft but not coloured and the onions are translucent. Stir frequently.

Add the tinned tomatoes, herbs and a good sprinkling of black pepper and stir well. Next add the stock, reduce the heat and cook gently for around 30 minutes.

Now add the pasta and cook for a further 10 minutes until it is almost completely cooked then add the cabbage and green beans for another 5 minutes or so. If the soup is quite thick add extra hot water from the kettle until you achieve your desired consistency.

Check seasoning, remove the cheese rind and any whole herbs then serve. This is excellent with a dollop of pesto in the middle. My recipe for basil, rocket and walnut pesto is particularly good.

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