My Minestrone

Minestrone is fresh garden vegetables and herbs with pasta, rice and legumes (according to taste) and the essential butter, bacon fat, oil or lard. For a lighter version, the oil or butter may be added when the soup has been cooked . . . Almost every Italian region has its own exclusive recipe . . . Hot minestrone is a pleasant winter dish, and the cold version is a true delicacy, provided it’s not served straight from the fridge. (courtesy of The Silver Spoon, page 239)

I find that my minestrone can change every time I make it. The seasonal vegetables being used play a big part in the final flavour. Lamb minestrone will taste different to a chicken or beef minestrone too. Minestrone to me is all about putting as many different ingredients together in one pot to create a perfect Winter soup that everyone will enjoy – even the kids!

Whatever vegetables are left over in the fridge at the end of the week are the best, most perfect vegetables for my minestrone. Who can be bothered going to the supermarket just to buy veggies when you have them sitting in your fridge! You were just going to throw them out, weren’t you!? It’s such a hearty soup that’s full of yummy goodness. Canned beans, fresh beans, legumes or no legumes, bacon or prosciutto – so many options that there really is no right or wrong way to make minestrone! The more veg the better I say!

With every minestrone I’ve made – and I’ve made it quite a few times in my life – with all the different vegetables or meat I’ve used, I’d have to say they have all been wonderful and I can never make up my mind which one I love the best! I’ve decided to share this one with all of you as it was the most recent minestrone I made. I used my biggest saucepan to make this minestrone I had and cooked it slowly for a couple of hours. I have also used my slow cooker and left it on all day. Both options work perfectly.

I used lamb chops for this minestrone, apart from being left over in the fridge, as I find there’s more flavours coming from the meat enriching the soup with the bones. If you prefer to use diced lamb, remember that you won’t need to remove it from the soup when I’ve specified in the method to do so.

Enjoy my minestrone and I look forward to hearing, and trying, all of your different adaptations to this soup.

INGREDIENTS:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 rashers bacon, fat trimmed and diced
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, sliced
4 lamb chops
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (400 grams) diced tomatoes
2 potatoes, skin on and diced
¼ cauliflower, cut into florets
1 zuccini, diced
12 green beans, trimmed and cut into bit size lengths
1 can (420 grams) four bean mix
1 can (420 grams) cannellini beans
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
2 handfuls of small shell pasta – or any small pasta you choose
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
Parmesan cheese, finely grated

METHOD:
On medium heat, add oil, bacon, onion, carrot and celery into a large saucepan. Sauté until the onion is translucent.

Brown the lamb to seal in the flavours and add the garlic.

Place the tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflower, zucchini, green beans and canned beans in the saucepan altogether, stirring gently. Add salt and pepper to taste – don’t over season at this point.

Add the chicken stock and water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 hours, covered.

Remove the chops and cut in to bite size pieces and return back into the minestrone.

Add in the pasta until al dente, around 15 minutes.

Turn the heat off and add the parsley just before serving.

Serve in soup bowls, topped with parmesan cheese and fresh, crusty buttered bread on the side.

Serves 2 people, freezing the leftovers for lunches
OR (8 people)

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