STEPS 5, INGREDIENTS 14+, TIME 80 MINS
This beginner-friendly minestrone soup recipe is a ‘throw it all in the pan’ style beauty, although in truth it hardly qualifies as a soup at all…
That’s because in Italian ‘minestra’ actually means broth (in other words, soup with big chunky bits in), so this family filling minestrone is literally a ‘big broth’.
Whatever the name, it’s darn tasty and nutrituous to boot… there’s all kinds of wholesome goodness in there – from courgette (zucchini) to cannellini beans, carrot and tomatoes, celery and more. There is a little chopping involved, but once it’s all the pan there’s little to do.
Note: To avoid confusion, put meaty, gravy-like Western versions of minestrone firmly out of mind; the real Italian broth is predominantly veggie-packed (although you can throw in some bacon if you like).
Ingredients: (For a printable PDF shopping list click here, or right-click this same link and choose ‘Save target as’ or ‘Save link as’ to save for later.)
1 large carrot
250g/9oz spinach or cabbage leaves (ideally fresh)
2-3 small potatoes (200-250g/7-9oz)
2 courgettes/zucchini (4 if very small)
200g/7oz tinned beans (white cannellini/kidney/black-eye… all these are good)
2 medium sized stalks of celery
Half a cube of chicken or veg stock
1 clove of garlic
200g/7oz tinned peas
2 plum tomatoes (from tin) or 2 peeled medium tomatoes (to peel these, sink in boiling water for 2 mins, then drain, rinse in cold water and peel)
10 fresh basil leaves
200g/7oz tiny ‘pastina’ pasta shapes (cubetti, gozzini, macaroni or broken spaghetti)
Extra virgin olive oil
50g/1.75oz of bacon normal or ‘pancetta’ belly bacon
1 small glass of white wine
Parmesan cheese (to serve)
Large pan/skillet (ideally with lid)
Sharp chopping knife
Preparation: 20 mins
Cooking: 60 mins
Overall: 80 mins
STEP 1 – The first step of this minestrone soup recipe is all about preparation. Start by removing the ends of the garlic clove, peeling it, and chopping it into quarters. Then wash and tear the basil leaves, and wash and ‘destalk’ the spinach leaves.
Now peel, ‘end’ and chop all the other veg into 1cm cubes. In other words…
• Peel the carrot, chop off its ends, and cut into 1cm cubes
• Do the same with the potato
• Chop off the celery’s stalk ends and cut into cubes
• Do the same with the courgettes/zucchini
STEP 2 – Cover the base of the pan with olive oil and put on a medium heat hob. Immediately throw in the garlic and basil (and the bacon if using it), and fry until the garlic turns golden (probably 5-7 mins).
When the garlic is golden, you may want to take it out (if you don’t mind munching this garlic later when it’s soft, don’t worry). Now throw in all the veg. Fry and stir this for 2 mins until it’s nicely covered in the oil.
If using wine, add this now and fry the mixture for a further 2-3 minutes (to evaporate away some of the alcohol, leaving just the grape’s taste).
STEP 3 – Boil a full kettle and cover all the veg in the pan with hot water. Also add a full teaspoon of salt and crumble in the stock cube. Stir and cover.
STEP 4 – When the water is boiling, turn down a little to ‘simmer’ level (tiny bubbles) and set your timer for 45 mins.
The idea here is to cook the mixture until the veg turns soft (after 45 mins, try some to check – if it’s not very soft, cook a little longer).
STEP 5 – Add your pasta and additionally cook everything for as long as the pasta’s packet recommends (usually around 10 minutes).
Done! Does it get any easier than this minestrone soup recipe? I think not…
To serve: Dish your big broth into bowls, drizzle a little olive oil over each and serve with a shared bowl of grated parmesan cheese and super-crusty bread.
Italians from Genoa (the ‘genovese’) also add a full spoonful of fresh pesto in the middle of each dish. Mmm… deliciously herby… this is a great idea for next time (check out my 5-minute pesto recipe to learn how to create this).