Before the southern summer heat vents its spleen and the northerners tuck themselves in for winter, a nutritious meal that might ward off cold and flu viruses that accompany seasonal changes, could be just what we need.
Such as Minestrone served with some crusty rolls/baguette slices.
There are a multitude of recipes for Minestrone out there, from basic to gourmet, but I tend to think the best for me, is a mixture of both. Something easy to prepare, easy to cook and simple to remember, especially when I am out shopping for ingredients.
Saute, simmer and sip…..that is my mantra when making soups. You don’t want to be fussing too much, nor for too long.
Minestrone Soup can be a complete meal in a bowl, providing plenty of protein, carbohydrate, minimal fat, green vegetables, lots of fibre plus vitamin C, A , B, beta-carotene, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc and more.
It is also a great way to use up those leftover vegetables that are heading towards their use-by date.
The recipe can be adapted to feed a hungry horde or a small two person family. Another advantage is that you can cook this in one large saucepan, if you wish (read: less washing up), or you may prefer to saute the ingredients separately. This is totally your choice.
Recipe – My Minestrone
- 1 tbspn Olive Oil (cold pressed virgin olive oil is best)
- 2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 Onions, sliced and diced
- 2 rashers Bacon ( this is optional, if you want to keep it vegetarian)
- 500 ml (2 U.S. cups) Beef/Chicken/Vege Stock, plus 1/2 cup extra stock in reserve.
- An assortment of vegetables which might include:
- 2 – 3 Carrots, sliced & diced
- 1/2 cup sliced cabbage
- 2 medium Potatoes, peeled and diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced but keep leaves and top of stalk whole
- 1/2 cup Frozen/fresh sliced beans
- 2 zucchinis, diced into large chunks
- 1/2 cup Spinach, chopped roughly (frozen or fresh)
- 1-2 Handfuls of torn fresh basil leaves
- 440 g (15oz) Can Chopped Tomatoes
- 120g (5oz) tin Beans of your choice (cannellini, kidney or even a can of four bean mix)
- 1/2 cup dried Pasta* , preferably small shells/spirals but any pasta will do nicely
* Time-saving tip: Use leftover cooked pasta, instead of dried/fresh.
- splash of red wine (optional)
- 2 Bay leaves
- Herbs such as Oregano, parsley
- Salt and Pepper
- Shaved Parmesan cheese (fresh) for garnish
What you can do whilst watching TV or listening to some good music, otherwise known as the:
- Begin to heat the stock in a large saucepan.
- In a separate pan, saute bacon, onion and garlic in olive oil for 3-5 minutes, and add the stock.
- Add prepared vegetables and basil leaves to the pan and saute for about 3-5 minutes depending on the quantities used.
- Add the chopped vegetables to the stock mix along with the whole celery leaves, chopped tomatoes, bay leaves and red wine) and bring to the boil.
- Simmer for 10 minutes – quite enough time to take a power nap, relax, change the playlist, check email, (although I don’t encourage the latter). You could even try some of the wine, if you decided to add some to the soup! Not too much, though, or you might forget to include the last few steps of the recipe!
- I like to remove the Bay and celery leaves at this point, otherwise it is difficult to retrieve them later on.
- Add the dried pasta, herbs and seasonings, including salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook for about 8 -10 minutes. It should be starting to smell oh-so-good!!!
- Drag yourself away from the computer, or the wine, to check on the stove! At this stage, it should look a bit like a thick casserole as opposed to a soup. You can leave it this way, if you prefer, or
- Add around extra 1/2 – 3/4 cup stock or water, to thin it down a little.
- Heat through, taste test to adjust seasonings, and serve, garnished with a little fresh shaved Parmesan.
Voila – A complete meal in a bowl and little washing up!