What is minestrone? Wikipedia describes it as “a thick soup of Italian origin made with vegetables, often with the addition of past or rice. Common ingredients include, beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock and tomatoes.”
I think the first minestrone soup I made for myself would have been from St Delia’s Complete Cookery Course. Her recipe, which is light on the bacon and heavy on the vegetables, would take very little adaptation to make a delicious (and hearty) vegetarian soup. But a little too hearty for springtime, I feel.
Looking for other recipes, I tried to work out what makes a minestrone soup for me.
I narrowed it down to my idiosyncratic collection:
cooked beans, a green leafy vegetable, pasta (preferably the tiny pasta shapes because they’re so cute and where else are you going to use them) and whatever other vegetables are in season and in your fridge.
It’s spring and I wanted to have a lighter, more fragrant minestrone. For the leafy vegetable I opted for little gem lettuce. I’ve been using it in lunchtime noodle soups a lot recently, and added right at the end of cooking it retains a sweet crunch to the end of eating. I debated long about whether I should include tomatoes, but in the end I decided that I didn’t want to change the green colour scheme of the soup. I have specified 6 fresh mint leaves to be added at the end. I didn’t want this to be a minted soup or a mint soup. Adding so few at the end, means that you get a little waft of cool freshness every third mouthful or so rather than them taking over the whole dish.
As you’re only cooking leaf or stem vegetables here with very small pasta shapes, this is a lovely, quick lunch dish to make. Some garlic bread on the side, wouldn’t go amiss either!
4 spring onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp veg stock powder
750 ml boiling water
1/2 tin cooked beans (whatever you have, as long as they’re not baked beans!)
30g pasta soup shapes
asparagus tips (mine were tinned)
fine green beans, chopped on the diagonal
tender stem broccoli, sliced
1 little gem lettuce, shredded
6 fresh mint leaves, finely shredded
salt and pepper
Add the oil to a large saucepan, heat and add the spring onions and garlic. Sweat these until they are translucent.
Add the boiling water and stir in the stock powder.
Add the beans and sprinkle in the pasta.
Add the rest of the vegetables other than the lettuce and the mint.
Season with salt & pepper.
Simmer for 10 minutes or so until the pasta is cooked and vegetables are to your taste.
At the last minute before serving, stir in the lettuce and mint.
Turn off the heat.
Serve into warmed bowls, maybe with a bit more olive oil drizzled over.