Autumnal minestrone soup

185_1_1438936276With the colder weather just around the corner, it is the perfect time to start planning warm and comforting foods for the season. This minestrone soup is ideal for using up end-of-season summer vegetables, and is great for warming up on a chilly night. It would also make an amazing starter to an autumn dinner! Full of goodness and so easy to make, this soup is a real winner, so we definitely recommend you give it a go.

Ingredients

  • 200g cannellini or borletti beans, fresh or dried and soaked overnight
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tomato, squashed
  • 1 small potato, peeled
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 4 rashers smoked pancetta or bacon
  • 2 small red onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped
  • half a head fennel, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil, leaves and stalks separated
  • 2 x 400g tinned plum tomatoes
  • 1 glass red wine
  • 2 small courgettes, quartered and sliced
  • 200g chard or spinach, washed and roughly sliced, including stalks
  • 565ml chicken, ham or vegetable stock
  • 55g dried pasta
  • parmesan cheese, to serve

Method

  1. In a pan of water, add in your fresh or dried and soaked beans with the bay leaf, squashed tomato and potato. Cook until the beans are tender and soft, and check by tasting. Dried beans can take up to an hour, but check fresh ones after 25 minutes. Drain (reserving about half a glass of the cooking water), and discard the bay leaf, tomato and potato. Season with salt, pepper and a splash of oil.
  2. While the beans are cooking, heat a good splash of olive oil in a saucepan and add the chopped pancetta or bacon, onions, carrots, celery, fennel, garlic and the finely sliced basil stalks. Sweat very slowly on a low heat with the lid just ajar for around 15 to 20 minutes until soft, but not brown. Add the tomatoes, courgettes and red wine, and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the chard or spinach, stock and beans to the saucepan. Put the dried pasta into a polythene bag, squeeze all the air out and tie the end up. Bash gently with a rolling pun to break the pasta into pieces, then snip the end off the bag and empty the contents into the soup. Stir and continue to simmer until the pasta is cooked.
  4. If you think the soup is looking too thick, you can add a little more stock or some of the reserved cooking water to thin it down. Then taste and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve sprinkled with the torn-up basil leaves and with some extra virgin olive oil drizzled over the top. Put some parmesan on the table for everyone to help themselves to.

This soup is filling and packed with goodness, so it is the ideal recipe for the coming season! With some bread to mop up the leftovers, you just can’t go wrong!

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