Di’s Minestrone Soup
Serves 8 or more
I know, this Minestrone is not the really authentic Italian variety. It uses cannellini beans and red kidney beans but no pasta. Lots of veggies we had to hand the day this soup was made were pressed into service – we could have used more but the pot would not have coped! The result was filling, delicious, healthy and gluten free.
Spice up the flavour a notch by adding a finely chopped chilli or two or a splash of tabasco sauce. For the vegetarian option, leave out the bacon, of course!
- 2 tblsps extra virgin olive oil
- 3 short-cut bacon rashers, chopped (optional)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced finely
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (any type)
- 2 tblsps tomato paste
- 1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
- 2 tblsps chopped fresh oregano leaves (or 1½ tsp dried oregano)
- 2 fresh corn cobs, kernels sliced off (frozen if you can’t find fresh)
- 2 red bell peppers, deseeded and diced
- 6 cups (about 1½ litres) vegetable or chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 2 medium zucchini, diced
- 1½ cups fresh green beans, trimmed and sliced
- 1 x 400g can cannellini beans, rinsed well and drained
- 1 x 200g can red kidney beans, rinsed well and drained
- 3-4 stems silverbeet, trimmed, white part discarded, leaves shredded finely (or a large handful baby spinach leaves)
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat oil to medium high in a large heavy-based soup or stock pot. Cook bacon, if using, until crisp. Remove from the heat, drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium, add onion, garlic, celery, carrot and potatoes and cook, stirring, until onions have softened (about 6-8 minutes).
- Return bacon to the pot, add tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, oregano and 1 cup of stock. Stir to coat vegetables and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the corn kernels and bell peppers with the remaining 5 cups of stock. Cover, bring to the boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Add cannellini beans, red kidney beans, zucchini and green beans. Stir then cook gently, covered, for a further 20 minutes. Add a little more stock or water if soup is too thick. Stir in the shredded silverbeet and continue to simmer until just wilted. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
- Ladle into bowls and top with a generous amount of parmesan cheese. Serve with warm crunchy bread spread with a little pesto.