Minestrone (recipe)

Minestrone(Thank you Marcus Kennedy for the pearl barley idea)

Enough for 4 – 6 people

If you don’t have all of these vegetables, that’s fine, just use whatever you have in the fridge and feel free to substitute others. If you want to keep it vegan/vegetarian, just miss out the bacon and use vegetable stock. It does look like a lot of ingredients, but most of them are veggies or just tins to open.

2 rashers streaky bacon or pancetta, diced (optional)
1 Fethiye leek or 2 normal sized ones – thinly sliced
1 small red onion – chopped
1 large carrot – halved lengthways and sliced
2 sticks celery – sliced
½ bulb fennel – thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic – grated or finely chopped
½ teaspoon chilli flakes (or use a fresh chilli if you prefer)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 x 400g tin beans, drained (borlotti, cannellini or kidney beans are good)
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes (or equivalent amount of passata)
Approx 600ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 courgette, quartered lengthways and then sliced
Handful of runner beans, sliced horizontally (they need to fit on the spoon)
A couple of handfuls of pearl barley
2 bay leaves
A sprig each of thyme and rosemary
1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of sugar
Grated parmesan and chopped fresh basil or parsley, to serve (optional)
Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan and add the bacon (if using), leeks, onions, carrot, fennel, celery (and fresh chilli, if using) and a large pinch of salt. Stir to combine, cover with a lid and then cook over a gentle heat for a few minutes until the vegetables have softened. Stir in the garlic and chilli flakes (if using) and cook for another minute or so.

Add the tomato paste and stir well until everything is combined, then add the tinned tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil. Add the barley, runner beans, courgette and herbs, then turn down the heat, cover, and simmer for about half an hour or a little longer if the barley needs more cooking (though it should be cooked by this time and you don’t want to overcook the veg). Taste the soup and add a splash of balsamic vinegar and/or a pinch of sugar if you think it needs it. Season well with salt and pepper, remove the bay leaves and herb springs and stir in the fresh basil or parsley. Serve in large soup bowls with plenty of grated Parmesan or Pecorino (if using) and some custy bread.


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