This recipe is adapted from Marcella Hazan and has become the byword for Minestrone in our house. My husband has even been known to criticise other versions that heís eaten because they donít taste like this one. The soup is best prepared a day ahead so that the flavours get a chance to marry and mature. The preparation takes about half an hour and it should be cooked for about 2 Ĺ to 3 hours. Do add the ingredients in the order that they are listed as this gives optimum results.
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, very finely sliced
2 sticks of celery, diced
4 carrots, diced
225g potatoes, peeled and diced. You can also add a small amount of sweet potato and/or swede, peeled and diced
115g fresh French beans, topped, tailed and diced
170g shredded Savoy cabbage
1.5 litres vegetable stock (I used Marigold)
Leftover rind from Parmesan cheese, if you have it. I try to keep them in the freezer for when I need them
170g tin of chopped Italian tomatoes in their juice
Soup pasta or broken vermicelli
Salt to taste
Freshly grated parmesan to serve
Choose a large saucepan or stockpot and heat the oil gently.
Keep the heat medium-low and cook the onion until it is a pale golden colour.
Add the celery and continue to cook and stir for a further two to three minutes, then add the carrots, potatoes, French beans and the courgettes, allowing two to three minutes of cooking and stirring after adding each ingredient and before adding the next.
Finally add the cabbage and cook for about five minutes longer.
Pour in the stock, add the parmesan rinds (if using) and the tomatoes with their juice. Season to taste.
Cover the pan and cook at a very gentle simmer for about two and a half hours, stirring from time to time. It should have thickened by now and become very soupy.
Adjust the seasoning if necessary, add some small soup pasta, and serve with grated parmesan.
If you want to make it even more filling you can add a 400g tin of drained cannellini beans at this stage, with or without the pasta. Should you want to give the soup a little more zing, you can stir in two or three teaspoons of ready prepared pesto.
Nothing is set in stone, so feel free to experiment with the ingredients, and make sure you have some delicious Italian ciabatta to serve, hot from the oven