As far as I can tell minestrone soup has no definitive recipe, but takes advantage of seasonal vegetables and a richly flavoured broth. Many recipes call for a dark beef broth, or the addition of thin strips of fried bacon, to create that salty savoury depth. However, I’ve kept this very simple and vegetarian, and used a small amount of dried porcini mushrooms to add depth to the stock. I also used a mushroom stock cube (available from Kallo’s range) alongside my usual vegetable stock to add another dimension, I really recommend you try out their whole range of organic vegetarian stock cubes, they really help to refine vegetarian flavours when making soups and stews, or when cooking grains or lentils.
This is the original hearty soup, big enough to be a meal in itself, with or without bread, rustic looking, but actually requiring a little bit of precision to cut all those vegetables just so. I usually blitz up my soups to a smooth cconsistency(it means there’s no need to be neat with the initial chopping), but real minestrone needs to be chunky, with the beans, finely diced veg and miniature pasta, swimming in a light, semi clear broth.
1 large onion (20p)
2 cloves of garlic (10p)
2 tbsp of rapeseed oil for frying (3p)
1 large carrot (15p)
1 courgette (55p)
1/2 a small swede (47p)
1 medium potato (a waxy variety works best) (10p)
4-5 green beans (62p)
250g of cooked pinto or borlotti beans (35p)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes (89p)
2 bay leaves (5p)
5g of dried porcini mushrooms (40p)
2 kallo stock cubes (36p)
1 litre of water
1 tablespoon of tomato puree (5p)
1 teaspoon of yeast extract (10p)
200g of dark green leaves (kale, savoy, spring greens, whatever is in season) (68p)
100g of small pasta (broken spaghetti, hoops, letters, dinosaurs! Whatever you fancy) (35p)
Begin by frying the finely chopped onions and garlic in the oil for five minutes, add the finely diced carrot, swede, and courgette and the thinly sliced green beans. Coat the vegetables in the oil and continue to fry on a medium heat for another 5 minutes.
Add the tinned tomatoes, the pinto beans, the stock, and the seasonings, and bring to the boil. While the stock is coming up to temperature, finely snip the dried porcini mushrooms into the pot, using a pair of kitchen scissors. After 15 minutes simmering, once the veg is tender, add the finely diced potato (if it was added earlier with the other veg it would just disintegrate) and the pasta, simmer the soup for 5 minutes before adding he finely shredded greens. Cook for 5 more minutes until the potato is tender, the pasta al dente and the greens wilted.
It is excellent served on its own with a small sprinkling of chilli flakes for a kick. If you have some crusty bread on hand to mop up the broth then that would be perfect too.
This particular batch, made with alphabet pasta, resulted in a long lunch spent spelling out names and silly words. This is my two year old’s favourite way to practice her letters. Educational and tasty.
This works out at 68p per generous hearty portion, and I’m sure it covers several key objectives in the primary literacy curriculum too.