In my last blog post, I mentioned how I love to eat the cheddar cheese scones I make with a bowl of homemade minestrone soup. So, I thought it would be appropriate for me to share my recipe for Minestrone soup with you.
Yes, it may lack in authenticity, but I prefer this soup without the pasta, rice or potatoes. This is a recipe I often make out of thrift – it is an excellent way of using up odds and ends of vegetables lurking in the fridge drawer. This approach is not exactly authentic, but a good way of using up perfectly decent vegetables.
Consulting my Italian cookery bible; Anna del Conte’s Gastronomy of Italy (ed. Anova Books, 2013), I see that there are, in fact, two regional variations of minestrone soup; minestrone alla milanese and minestrone alla napoletana. Del Conte suggests using borlotti beans, carrots, celery, courgettes, green beans, fresh peas and savoy cabbage, alongside potatoes and Vialone Nano rice to make the Milanese Minestrone. The Neapolitan version uses a local pumpkin too.
This is my take, but it is more of a template for you to add what you have to hand. Although I suggest you mix and match the vegetables you add, do, please, add the rind of parmesan if you can. It takes the flavour and texture to another level of deliciousness.
- 1 tbsp excellent quality olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 leek, sliced into thin rings
- 3 medium courgettes, cut into 1cm dice
- 1 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced
- 4 rashers smoked bacon, cut into 1cm chunks
- 1 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- 100g kale chopped into small pieces, with any tough pieces removed
- 500ml hot chicken stock
- 1 piece of parmesan rind
- Salt and pepper
- Some fresh basil leaves
1) Heat the oil a large pan. Add the garlic and leek and allow to cook over a moderate heat for around 10 minutes until softened Add the courgette, fennel and bacon and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring continuously
2) Add the tomatoes and kale and stir well.
3) Next, add the hot stock, parmesan rind and salt and pepper. Stir and allow to simmer for 45 minutes before serving. Garnish with basil before serving.