I feel like i’m forever making a version of minestrone (and from comments on my instagram it seems like many of you lot out there are too) so i’m not so worried about posing what is probably my one hundredth version of this classic Italian soup. The thing is, it really is more than just a soup. It’s a meal in a pot… well in our case here at Belleau Cottage it’s many meals in a pot depending on how long we can eek it out… It’s one of those soups that works well as a starter, served in small portions as the anticipation to a larger, meatier meal but it also works phenomenally well as a main course meal in its own right with the pasta bulking it out. Comforting and warming and filling. I also love the way you can play with the carbohydrate you choose to add. Traditionalists will say only minestrone macaroni will do and I totally get that, I too believe that whatever you use should sit well in the belly of a spoon along with its vegetable bedfellows but I do love experimenting with what that can be. Pearl Barley works exceptionally well as does small chunks of potato. I guess it all depends on what you have in your store cupboard. We all have those un-used strands of pasta lurking at the back of the shelves, not quite enough to make another spag boll but you keep it nonetheless. Well the minestrone is the perfect excuse to use these up. I’ve used three of those nests of tagliatelle that desperately needed eating. I’ve just crushed them into the soup prior to serving. I’ve also upped the green beans that I normally put in. I think all good minestrones need some form of bean and I do adore the crunchy snap of a green bean, so they’ve gone in alongside the basic soffritto of onions, celery and carrot as well as courgette and cabbage of course!
my top 3 tips to making the best minestrone:
- low and slow – there really is no reason to rush this one and the lower and slower you can cook it the better it will taste. This includes making it the day before you’re going to eat it. Those flavours will only enhance with an overnight cool down and reheat.
- add some wine to your stock – there’s something about that little glass of white wine that takes this from soup to super!
- cheese – I always grate a mix of very strong cheddar and parmesan in to the final soup, it gives it an unexpected creaminess and also adds a subtle twang which works wonders with all the vegetables.
broken tagliatelle and green bean minestrone
- a little olive oil and butter
- one medium white onion – chopped
- 2-3 sticks of celery – chopped
- 2-3 carrots – chopped
- 2 garlic cloves – grated
- fresh herbs – I used oregano, rosemary and thyme
- 100g green beans – cut into thirds
- 1 medium courgette – chopped
- 2/3rd litre vegetable stock mixed with 1/3rd white wine
- 1/4 head of large savoy cabbage – chopped
- 3 nests of dried tagliatelle – crushed
- 100g strong cheddar cheese – finely grated
- plenty of fresh ground black pepper
In a large soup pan or shallow casserole dish, heat a little butter with some olive oil and once warm throw in the onions, celery and carrots, stir well, turn up the temperature to just above medium and let the vegetables cook for at least 8 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the grated garlic and the fresh herbs halfway through this cooking time and stir well in.
after 8 or so minutes the vegetables will have begun to soften and slightly colour, add the green beans and the courgettes and stir well in and let them shimmy in the heat for another 5 mins
add the chopped tomatoes followed by the stock and stir together, then add the cabbage, place the lid on, turn down the heat to it’s very lowest and let the whole thing gently bubble away for at least 45 mins, take it off the heat and add the pasta and the cheese and stir well in… wait for 5 mins before serving now if you must.
at this stage it’s essentially ready to serve but I promise you it simply won’t taste as good as it could do should you allow it to cool entirely and reheat later. The ultimate would be the next day but if you make it in the morning and serve it in the evening then it will be pretty damn phenomenal!
eat and of course, enjoy!