Minestrone soup needs a bit of love and attention – but once everything is in the pot, it pretty much takes care of itself. It definitely improves when left alone for a while before you tuck in. In fact, it tastes even better the following day.
There are many different recipes for minestrone soup. Some recipes are quicker to make but I follow the lead of an Italian recipe that advice a long simmering time. The result is a filling and stunningly tasty soup.
It can be eaten as a vegetarian version or with meat. I add the rind of a Parmesan cheese when cooking it, and love to eat it with either crumbled feta cheese or grated Parmesan cheese and cooked chicken.
I also add nutritious beans – a much better choice than adding refined white pasta or rice as both of these are lacking a lot vitamins and minerals.
And if you want to lose weight, you are much better off adding beans to the soup and avoiding white rice and pasta.
For 4-6 people:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 medium-sized carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, sliced
5 mini zucchinis, or 1 medium-sized, diced
100g, 3½oz, 2 cups, shredded red or white cabbage
400g, 14oz tin/can of plum tomatoes with juice, or use chopped tomatoes - buy the best quality you can find of either (add 1 tablespoon tomato paste/puree if you are using chopped tomatoes)
600ml, 20floz, slightly more than 2½ cups, vegetable stock
Rind of a parmesan cheese (optional)
1 sprig of rosemary and 1 sprig of thyme – or add a little bit of dried herbs
¾ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
400g, 14oz, tin/can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
150g, 5½oz, 1½ cups, green beans, sliced, or peas
1. Place the oil a large pot over a low - medium heat and add the onion and garlic to the pot. Cook for about 10 minutes – stirring frequently to avoid burning the vegetables – until the onion is soft.
2. Add the carrots, celery, cabbage and zucchinis to the pot. Stir and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes with their juice - breaking up the tomatoes if using whole plum tomatoes – stock, herbs, salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a simmer.
3. Cover the pot with a lid, turn down the heat and allow the soup to simmer over a low heat for about 1 hour and 45 minutes – give the soup a stir a couple of times during this time.
4. Add the cannellini beans and green beans to the pot. Stir and re-cover the pot with the lid. Cook for a further 15 minutes. If you are using frozen peas, add them a couple of minutes before the soup is ready.
5. Remove the Parmesan rind from the soup and check the seasoning. Serve it with grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled feta cheese.