Minestrone is the ultimate comfort food and an amazing way to clean the fridge! I make it regularly during the winter season and the ingredients tend to change depending on what vegetables I have in the fridge.
Usually my minestrone has a a mix of vegetables, few pulses, at least one cereal, a mix of herbs and a fair amount of grated parmigiano cheese when served! I tend to cut the vegetable in pieces of similar size and add them to the pot according to their cooking time. So I would always start with celery, leek and carrots with extra virgin olive oil and then slowly add the other ingredients starting from the ones that take the longest to cook. I also add water as I add the ingredients, this way I can ensure that the minestrone is soupy but not too watery! it’s a very fine balance and I find that the only way to get to the right amount of water is by adding it a bit at the time.
So here is my basic recipe, it makes a pot of minestrone serving 6 main course portions or 12 starter portions.
- 3 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 Leek
- 2 Sticks of celery
- 150 g Carrots (about 3 medium size) – peeled and chopped
- 100 g Spelt
- 500g Potatoes (2 medium size) – peeled and chopped
- 100g French beans –
- 300g Courgettes
- 100g Peas (I use frozen ones)
- 50g Cherry tomatoes
- 100g Chard
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1tbsp Dry rosemary
- Salt to taste
- 5 cups Water
1. Peel and chop the carrots, cut the leek in half lengthwise and slice it finely, chop the celery. Add the vegetables to a pot with 3 tablespoons of EVOO and let them sizzle for a few minutes until they start to soften.
2. While the vegetables soften, peel and chop the potatoes in small cubes. Add the spelt and the potatoes to the pot, stir and cover with 3 cups of water. Bring it to boil and let it cook for 5 minutes
3. Put the spices in an infusion bag and add them to the pot. This is a good time to season with some slat
I like using infusion bags the dry herbs so that they release their flavour without spreading in the soup. This way it is easy to remove them when the minestrone is ready to be served. If you are using fresh herbs you can tie them with a cooking string and put the in the pot; using the string also makes it easier to remove the herbs from the minestrone once ready.
4. Cut off the ends the French beans, cut them in small pieces and add to the pot. Top up with another cup of water if needed
5. Chop the courgettes and tomatoes in small chunks and add them to the pot and let them cook for few minutes. Then add the peas, cover with some more water, if needed, and let the minestrone cook for few more minutes. This is a good time to taste and add any salt if required.
6. Finally slice the chard leaves and stalk, add to the pot and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Remove the spices bag, taste and add more salt if needed.
7. The minestrone is ready when all the vegetables are cooked and the water has turned in a falvoursome soup.
When ready take it off the heat and serve it. I like to dust my minestrone with plenty of parmigiano cheese and eat it while steaming hot.
This minestrone is simply delicious and one can substitute vegetable, pulses and cereals, some suggestions might be:
- Leek with brown onion or banana shallot
- Carrot with pumpkin or butternut squash
- Potatoes can be replaced with sweet potatoes or not used at all
- Spelt with barley, brown or arborio rice or even small pasta. If using pasta I would tend to add it at the same time as the courgettes as it has shorted cooking time then spelt and rice. If you have some cooked rice, you could just add it at the end so that it warms up.
- French beans and peas with borlotti or cannellini beans or lentils. If you re using dry beans or lentils, make sure you soak them as per packaging instructions and add them to the minestrone during step 2 as they will take longer to cook. Beans and lentils out of a tine can be added in step 4.
- Chard with any other leafy vegetable, options can be rainbow chard, spinach or cavolo nero. If using cavolo nero allow few extra cooking time minutes.
Minestrone freezes very well from cooked. You could also chop all the vegetables and freeze them raw, then you just throw them to the pot when you want to make minestrone.
This recipe is the perfect winter warmer and comfort food. Enjoy making it and let me know if you have any comments or questions!
If you want to make this recipe and share it on your social media please tag me using @prepandproperrecipes and the tag #prepandproperrecipes