I’ve made many Minestrone over the years but this Orzo Minestrone is one of the best. I think the first one you make each year is always the best one and I can’t quite believe that it’s nearly April and I haven’t made one yet. Minestrone is one of those soups that is just so simple to make yet is so utterly delicious. As long as you include the basics such as onion, carrot, celery and garlic you can pretty much add what you like, or what you have lurking in the back of the fridge.
Most minestrones include a bean of some kind. If I don’t have beans I will add peas. They also usually include cabbage, which I adore. My fave is to add cavalo nero but any cabbage would work. A true minestrone will also have some kind of pasta or carbohydrate. Macaroni is the classic but I have been known to use broken spaghetti, pearl barley or even potato chunks. This one has my new favourite pasta, orzo, which is rice shaped but is in fact pasta.
my top 3 tips to making the best Orzo 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.
- a little olive oil and butter
- one medium white onion – chopped
- 2-3 sticks of celery – chopped
- 1 large carrot – chopped
- 1/2 fennel bulb – chopped
- 2 garlic cloves – grated
- fresh herbs – I used oregano, rosemary and thyme
- 100g frozen peas
- 100g baby vine tomatoes – chopped
- 1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 2/3rd litre vegetable stock mixed with 1/3rd white wine
- 1/4 head of large savoy cabbage – chopped
- 100g orzo pasta
- 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, fennel 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 tomatoes and peas and stir well in and let them shimmy in the heat for another 5 mins
add the tin of 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, adding the orzo after 20 mins.
Take it off the heat and add the cheese and stir well in… wait for 5 mins before serving now if you must.
at this stagette Orzo Minestrone 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!