My Ultimate Minestrone Recipe

Vegetable Market

Happy Epiphany! We’re in lockdown again, but I’m sure many people will be looking at doing Veganuary or just get increase their vegetable intake after feasting on cheese for the holidays (no judgement, that’d be me), so here’s my ultimate minestrone recipe for a taste of Italy in these cold weeks. Since people always complain about how food blogs have a lot of fluff before you get to the recipe, but we all know we need long posts for SEO purposes, I will lead with the recipe and then share the anecdotes at the end.

This recipe makes about 1/1.5lt of soup.

1h of cooking plus extra for steeping if you want a stronger flavour (or cook in advance and have to cool it down anyway), and 12h soaking overnight if you use dry beans.

  • 1 large courgette
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 2 handfuls of cavolo nero
  • 2 handful of peas
  • 2/3 handful of dry beans, soaked for 12h (if you want to use canned it will likely taste different and it’ll have a different texture but hey, it’s life, we do what we can so I’ll give you the instructions for that too)
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • Half a large white onion
  • A handful of parsley
  • 3 tsp of bouillon powder in 1lt water
  • Salt and pepper to taste (or chilli pepper if you are my mother and a heathen)
  • A dash of olive oil
Choose a suitably sized pot (or not, I’m the queen of nearly overspilling what I’m cooking) and a way to set a timer (you’ll need 4 timers: 1h, 55 min, 45 min and 30 min, because if you cook everything for the whole hour it’ll turn into overcooked mush and that’s only good if you end up attacking it with a blender like I do with most minestroni not cooked by me).
Cut your vegetables and separate them into different containers for the different stages of cooking (it’s a hassle if you do your dishes by hand, but it’ll make cooking easier): stage 1, onion and celery; stage 2, beans (if using dry ones); stage 3, potatoes (keep them in water) and carrots; stage 4, courgette and tomatoes; stage 5, peas, spinach and cavolo nero (also beans if using canned ones).
Warm up the oil and soften the onion and celery, lower the fire (I used an electric hob on 2 out of 6) and add the contents of the 2nd container (skip if using canned beans) and broth (or powder and boiling water from the kettle, it mixes anyway). Let it gently simmer and go do something for half an hour (I read a 10-episodes story on Love 365 throughout). Don’t forget to set up the timers as soon as you begin cooking. 
As the first timer goes off, add the potatoes and carrots, season with parsley, give it all a stir and go off for another 15 minutes. At the 3rd timer add the courgette and tomatoes, stir again and check the seasoning. 5 minutes before the final timer add the peas, spinach and cavolo nero and then take the soup off the heat as the final timer rings. Voilá.
 Now for the fluff. If you live in Britain, you might have noticed how little tomato is in this recipe compared to what is passed for minestrone in supermarket soups. The reason for it is, I don’t know why your country is so obsessed with tomato-based foods (I mean, chicken tikka masala, anyone?) and especially the idea that all Italian food involves a lot of tomatoes when it doesn’t. Not only I have very little taste for cooked tomatoes anyway, so you won’t find me making caciucco or pasta al pomodoro all that often, but the reality is that minestrone is just not a tomato-based soup. At all. I have never seen a recipe for minestrone from actual Italians for actual Italians that used significant amounts of tomatoes in it. This is my compilation of trying and tasting combinations for the maximum flavour to prove to you of little faith that you don’t need a tomato based for a flavourful soup that makes you feel like you are in a villa in Tuscany. Pair it with a crisp dry white like a Sauv, Soave or Pinot Grigio if you want it to feel like a special holiday and not a Friday/Meat-free Monday supper.

 

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