I love soup. It’s healthy, filling, usually cheap, easy to make, requires minimal thought and co-ordination, and best of all, you can put pretty much anything in it. Making soup is a lovely calm activity for a gentle Sunday morning, and if you make a massive batch you’ll have a couple of days worth of packed lunch for work too.
Minestrone is the King of versatility. It surprises me that most recipes give a set list of vegetables with precise quantities. Surely it’s more fun and more practical to just throw in whatever seasonal vegetables you have to hand?! It does make my recipe look a bit strange, but that’s just how I like to do things. The point is, if you open the fridge and feel a bit baffled by the random selection of veggies inside, minestrone is a quick and tasty solution.
Recipe (serves 4-6)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- a couple of cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped (completely optional, but almost obligatory in the Veg house)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or any other herb that works well with what you’ve got)
- diced fresh veggies – a dinner plate piled fairly high is about the right amount (or 2 carrots, 2 courgettes, 1 red pepper, and a handful of broad beans if you want to follow a list)
- 120g small pasta or broken spaghetti
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
- 1 tin any kind of white beans (235g drained weight)
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan with the lid on, sweat the onion in the oil over a medium-low heat for up to 10 minutes, without colouring.
Add the garlic, chilli, herbs, and vegetables, and sweat with the lid on for another 5-10 minutes, again without colouring.
Add the pasta, tomatoes, drained beans, stock, and tomato puree, and simmer for a further 15-20 minutes, until the pasta and vegetables are tender.
Check the seasoning and serve. Top with croutons, cheese, toasted pine nuts, or pesto, or enjoy it naked.
This keeps well in the fridge for a few days but be warned – the pasta will gradually soak up the liquid and it will become less soupy over time, but still utterly delicious!