Minestrone is my go-to soup for most of the winter. It a wonderfully warming dish which never fails to please.
All the flavour of this soup comes from the slow cooking of the soffrito, the base vegetables. The longer you cook this, the sweeter and deeper the flavour, and you only need to add water not stock. I love using Russian kale, which is tender and takes less time to cook but in Italy they often use cavolo nero.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 200g (2 large) carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- 3 stalks of celery, finely diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 20g parsley, roughly chopped
- A couple of sprigs of marjoram, roughly chopped
- 1 tin tomatoes
- 300g cavolo nero, or kale, washed with stalks removed and roughly chopped
- 1 tin cooked borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
- Salt and pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil and grated parmesan to serve
- In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped carrots, onion, celery and a good pinch of salt and cook gently for about 20-30 minutes or until they are soft and just beginning to colour. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. By now, the vegetables should be lightly coloured and very soft and sweet.
- Turn up the heat a little and add the chopped herbs and fry briefly. Pour in the tomatoes and stir well. Turn down the heat and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or until the tomato is well reduced and you have a thick base of sweet, browned vegetables and tomato.
- Add the cavolo nero or kale and the beans and cover with 1.5 litres of cold water. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and leave for about 10 minutes for the flavours to develop.
- Finally check the seasoning and reheat slightly before serving.
- Serve topped with a sprinkle of grated parmesan and some good olive oil.