Spring minestrone soup
( SERVES 4 )
Minestrone is a soup that normally screams "winter". Yet taking advantage of spring vegetables results in a lighter soup with a cleaner flavour. Minestrone needs to be carefully crafted, and the key to this great soup is to set the flavour of the vegetables early on in the cooking. This is why they are cooked slowly in the butter and olive oil before adding the liquids. Too many recipes call for all the ingredients to be placed in a saucepan, covered with cold water and simmered for 30 minutes. This isn't soup, it's boiled vegetables. Various versions of the following recipe can be made according to the season. Substitute onions for the leeks, and in the height of summer, stir in some basil or pesto at the last minute.
Serve the soup as a main course with a green salad dressed with red wine vinegar and olive oil.
|1 Tbsp||Unsalted butter|
|50 g||Pancetta, or knuckle of ham|
|3 Tbsp||Olive oil|
|1 Ltr||Water, or vegetable stock|
|1 can||Crushed tomatoes, 400g, or tomato passata|
|¼||Small cabbage, cut into 1 cm-wide strips|
|1 handful||Flat leaf (Italian) parsley|
|1||Parmesan cheese, grated|
- Cut the pancetta into small pieces and place in a deep saucepan with the butter and oil.
- Melt the butter over a medium heat. Rinse and slice the leeks into small chunks and stir into the melted butter and oil.
- Stir occasionally as they soften. Peel the carrots and potatoes and cut into large dice. Stir into the leeks and lower the heat.
- Slowly cook until the vegetables have softened but are without colour.
- Peel and crush the garlic and roughly chop the tomatoes.
- Stir them into the soup, then add the water and passata.
- If you are using a ham bone, add it to the saucepan now.
- Bring the soup to a simmer, cover with a lid that's slightly askew to allow steam to escape, and simmer for 40 minutes.
- Add the broad beans, peas and cabbage. Roughly chop the parsley, add to the saucepan and shy cook for 15 minutes. Serve with grated parmesan.