I haven’t posted for a while, for couple of reasons – firstly, I’ve been madly busy but, secondly and most importantly, it’s been so unseasonably, ridiculously hot over the past month, with a record-breaking run of temperatures over 26°C for weeks on end. Global warming sucks and makes a mockery of all the change of seasons. Early autumn has always been a slightly fluid season in Australia but this autumn came with no cessation in the heat hostilities. Thankfully, just in time for Easter, we’ve had a slight cooling in temperatures and some long overdue rain, which brings me to my first soup of the season.
Despite the heat, my son has been nagging me for weeks for me to make soup for dinner. I’ve flatly refused while the heat was on but with relative cool of the past few days, I seized the opportunity to make a big pot of soup. The first soup of the season is a big deal in our house. We all love soup and I love it, in particular, because it’s dinner done for a couple of nights at least. After a bit of discussion with my son about which soup to make, we both settled on minestrone, with the optional pasta for those who want it. I posted a Minestrone Primavera in October, which is a wonderful celebration of spring but minestrone is a soup that is completely adaptable to the seasons.
This is minestrone recipe comes from Felicity Cloake’s wonderful Word of Mouth blog. I’ve adapted it to my family tastes and replaced the rice with the more kid-friendly pasta. I also add some tomato passata because my son likes the slightly rosy hue to the broth. Minestrone is a peasant soup and to be truly authentic, it should probably be made with water but, like Felicity, I think this makes the broth a bit thin, so I like to use a good quality vegetable stock. Some potato is essential to give the broth a bit of starchiness but if you add rice, it will make it very thick. We are big bread dunkers in our house and like our soup more ‘brothy’ for optimal bread dunking. As for the beans, I use either borlotti or cannellini beans but kids usually find the mild flavoured white cannellini beans more acceptable.
Adapted from Felicity Cloake’s Word of Mouth
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil, plus extra to serve
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 2 large carrots, cut into 1 cm dice
- 2 sticks of celery, cut into 1 cm dice
- 1 potato, cut into 2 cm dice
- 2–3 handfuls of seasonal vegetables of your choice ( diced zucchini, fresh peas, beans, corn kernals, cabbage)
- 1.5 litres (1.5 quarts) of good quality stock
- 100 grams cooked and drained borlotti or cannellini beans (I just used a can of white beans, rinsed and drained)
- 200 grams of risotto rice or about 200 grams of pasta cooked until not quite al dente (optional)
- 1 cup of tomato passata (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Grated parmesan, fresh basil or parsley to serve.
- Heat oil in large saucepan, add onion, celery and carrots and cook until tender (about 5-8 minutes), add crushed garlic and cook until fragrant. Add potato and coat in vegetable mixture.
- Add beans, rice (if using), stock and tomato passata (if using) and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes until potato and rice are cooked (if you have some Parmesan rind handy, you can throw this in with the stock). Add seasonal vegetables and cook until tender. Season to taste. If you are using pasta, add just before serving and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Serve with a drizzle of black pepper, grated Parmesan, basil or parsley or a dollop of pesto, if you have some on hand.
- If you make this ahead of time with the rice, you will need to add more liquid before reheating and serving.