Can the weather make it’s mind up? Between sodden outings with Fynn and harvesting our garden’s crop with the sunshine beating down I’m not quite sure which season we’re in. Somehow I decided that minestrone was what this crossover weather demanded. A soup that’s grateful for summer’s garden crop but will warm you from the inside out whilst the rain lashes against the window pane.
This recipe makes around two litres so it’s perfect to make a bulk batch for lunches or just to keep in the freezer for cosy days. I tend to freeze soup in muffin tins then pop them all in to a big bag for easy to microwave individual portions. Then I fight my Mum for the last of the batch, it’s almost tradition now.
Before I share my recipe, a note on the ingredients… Soups are for using what you have to hand, they’re concocted in casual measures with a pinch of this and a handful of that. Have you got some courgette in the fridge? Dice it up and throw that in at the beginning. Mushrooms? Beans? They’ll be good too. Don’t go out and buy fennel especially for this recipe, it does add something a little bit special, but your soup will still be fantastic without it. This recipe uses a quick cook minestrone mix, you might need to adjust the timing depending on the type you use.
You’ll need:1 Onion, diced 1 Carrot, diced 2 Sticks of celery, diced 2 Rashers of smoked bacon, diced 1 Garlic clove, minced 250g quick cook minestrone pasta and pulses (I use Tesco’s Wholefoods) 1 Bay leaf 400g tinned or fresh tomatoes, chopped 1 Tbsp tomato puree 1.5 Litres good quality chicken stock 1 Large handful of spinach (Kale or swiss chard are also lovely) 1 Small bunch of basil 1 Small handful of fennel fronds
In a large pan on a medium heat, fry the soffrito (onion, carrot, celery) and bacon until the bacon is cooked and the soffrito has softened. Add the garlic and fry for a further two minutes.
Pour in the minestrone mix and stir, coating the mix in the flavourful oil. Add the bay leaf, tomatoes, puree and stock. Stir well and allow to simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes or until the pasta and pulses have cooked.
Roughly chop the spinach and stir in. Add plenty of ground black pepper but check the seasoning before you add any salt; some stocks can be quite salty.
Finally, add the finely chopped basil and fennel then the soup is done.
Serve with crusty bread and a little parmesan as an optional extra.