London, 14th February 2013 – I prefer to use seasonal vegetables to cook Minestrone which is a simple soup full of natural flavors. The only vegetables that have survived the winter frost in my allotment are spinach, leeks and Brussels sprouts. I added a few other vegetables in season such as savoy cabbage and prepared my Minestrone.
As for the Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and beans) recipe, there are many versions of this classic Italian recipe. Many people use pancetta to enhance the flavours of the vegetables and add pasta, but I prefer only using vegetables to enjoy their natural flavours. We ate the soup with chunky vegetable pieces and topped with a lot of Parmesan and Pecorino cheese. It was a hearty meal: ‘delicious and very healthy ‘ commented my husband.
The next day for lunch I blended the leftover minestrone and made a quick pesto. For the pesto, I chopped roughly basil, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, parmesan and pecorino and mixed with extra virgin olive oil; then I added the fresh pesto on top of the blended Minestrone.
The blended Minestrone combines the vegetable flavours beautifully and creates a smooth, velvety soup. The strong flavour of the pesto added an extra dimension. Both versions, chunky and blended, are delicious in different ways.
RECIPE WITH STEP BY STEP PICTURES
SERVES 4, PREP 20 MINUTES, COOK 35 MINUTES
- 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks 2 cm thick
- 100 g carrot, peeled and cut into chunks 2 cm thick
- 100 g celery, peeled and cut into chunks 2 cm thick
- 100 g leek, peeled and cut into chunks 2 cm thick
- 100 g savoy cabbage, cut into 2 cm pieces
- baby plum tomatoes, halved
- 50 g spinach, small, young leaves
- 50 g Brussels sprouts, individual leaves pulled off
- 100 g green peas (I used frozen garden peas)
- 250 g borlotti beans (I used canned borlotti beans)
- 1Lt vegetable stock
- Sea salt
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- parmesan, pecorino and a dash of top quality extra virgin olive oil for serving.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add onion. Fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.
Add the vegetables except peas, mix well and stir fry over a medium high heat for 2 – 3 minutes.
Add the stock, peas, baby plum tomatoes, and season with salt. Cover and bring to the boil (10 minutes circa).
Add the borlotti beans and then simmer uncovered over a medium high heat for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked but still firm to the bite (al dente).
Serve Minestrone sprinkled with plenty of Parmesan, Pecorino and black pepper and drizzled with a dash of very good extra virgin olive oil.
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