Minestrone is such a wonderful soup. It’s low calorie yet jam-packed with flavour and vitamin goodness and is so easy to make. Below is my recipe – not authentic but utterly delicious. The use of Spanish chorizo gives a delicious, rich smokey undertone that I personally love. (This would make a good vegetarian supper – just leave out the chorizo – the beans, of course, providing a good source of protein). That’s the beauty of this soup – make it your own with your own combination of favourite Summertime herbs and vegetables and don’t get too strung out on amounts. If you over enthusiastically end up with a little too much veg in the pot, just add more stock to compensate.
One word of advice before we begin – try to chop the veg consistently quite small (cm cubes should do it). It’s not a deal breaker but the finished product will look so much prettier.
Ingredients (serves 6 – 8 )
50g Spanish chorizo, cubed
2-3 tbsps olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium carrots (about 170g or 6 oz), chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
4 new potatoes (about 170g or 6 oz), chopped
85g / 3 oz petit pois (baby peas)
85g / 3 oz French green beans, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 x 400g tin (14 oz) chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin (14 oz) cannellini or white haricot beans
1 tsp fresh thyme
1.5 litres (6 cups) good vegetable stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve (optional): fresh, grated Parmesan cheese and maybe a drizzle of olive oil
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and toss in the chorizo and then the onion. Allow to fry gently for 2-3 minutes and then add the carrots, potatoes, celery, peas and beans. Stir and continue to fry gently for another 2-3 mins, just to let the vegetables begin to ‘sweat’. Add the chopped tomatoes, beans, thyme, vegetable stock and black pepper. (I would only add extra salt, if needed, at the end of cooking because most commercially prepared stocks already contain a lot of salt). Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat right down, partially cover the pan and allow the soup to simmer gently for 30 minutes. At the end of this time check how the hardest vegetables are doing – they should be yielding but not mushy – and taste to check the seasoning. If needed, leave to simmer for a further 10 minutes.
To serve, you can sprinkle this soup with a little fresh, grated parmesan cheese and/or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. This soup is very nice served with warm, crusty French bread.