Spring is not too far away now, but there are still a number of freezing cold nights to battle through to get there. Prepare yourself for these chilly encounters with a hearty minestrone soup, perfect if you are entertaining guests or if you just want to cosy up on the sofa with a pillow and spend the evening watching TV.
A simple recipe that is full of flavour, this recipe is an adaptation of one found in Tesco’s free monthly magazine late last year. This version substitutes in a number of different ingredients but still emerges as an undisputed champion of vegetarian soups.
It will keep in the fridge for up to two days and can also be frozen in batches, making your minestrone cravings most satiable.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
2 tsp Olive Oil
2 tsp Garlic Puree
50g Spring Onions, topped and tailed
2 Carrots, topped, tailed, and finely diced
2 Celery Sticks, topped, tailed, and finely diced
2 Vegetable Stock Cubes, made up to 1.5 litres
100g Whole Wheat Spaghetti, snapped into 3-4cm lengths
100g Curly Kale
250g Asparagus, crowns trimmed off and sliced into 1cm rounds
100g Frozen Peas
400g Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper, to season
Large saucepan, non-stick if possible
1: Heat the oil in the saucepan over a medium heat and add the spring onions and garlic puree. Cook for two minutes, then add the celery and carrots. Cook for a further five minutes, stirring occasionally.
2: Pour in the vegetable stock. Stir through the spaghetti and the kale into the pan. Bring to the boil and let it cook for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
3: Add the asparagus and peas to the pan. Bring back to the boil and cook for a further five minutes.
4: Add the kidney beans and cook for a further three minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and then serve between four bowls or containers (for freezing).
If you are concerned that you have cut the vegetables too big, leave extra time for cooking. Use a long spoon to retrieve a piece of carrot or celery from the pan and give a taste before adding the salt and pepper at the end. This will tell you if the vegetables are suitably cooked.
For a crunchy side piece, make your own garlic bread in the oven while your soup cooks. Heat your oven to 220°C (fan 200°C, gas mark seven). Have two slices of brown bread per person. Spread each slice with butter and half a teaspoon of garlic puree. Sprinkle over some coriander and oven bake for 10 minutes or until the bread starts to go golden. It is perfect for dipping into the soup and is cheaper than buying pre-prepared garlic bread from the shops.
The recipe as it stands is vegetarian. To make it vegan and/or gluten free, make sure that you pick up vegan and/or gluten free vegetable stock cubes or stock pots.
Image: Marco Verch via Flickr