Founder of Your Write, freelance writer, editor, corporate communicator and TV Producer in my spare time, around being a busy mum to 3 little ones and managing our team at Your Write.
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Published June 20th 2012
When the cold weather hits, there is little better than a nice, warm bowl of hearty soup. Whether you want to have a lighter meal by pairing with crusty bread or turn an ordinary meal into a gourmet by making this soup the entree, Minestrone soup is always a favourite. I make up large batches of it and freeze the soup in small single or double portions for a quick and easy meal at a later date. And the best thing is that you really can use almost any vegetable in your fridge and adapt to suit your tastes.
200g pancetta, thinly sliced and chopped 2 carrots, finely chopped 1 onion, chopped 2 celery sticks, sliced 1 tsp minced garlic 3 cups of beef consomme 3 cups of beef stock
1 x 400g can Italian tomatoes
2 tbs tomato paste
1 1/2 cup of shell pasta
1 cup finely shredded cabbage
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 x 400g can of cannellini beans
Coarsely grated parmesan cheese to serve
Lightly cook pancetta, chopped and thinly sliced in olive oil in large saucepan. Add onion, carrots, celery stalk and garlic. Stir and cook until onion is soft, for around 5 minutes. Add any other fresh or dried herbs at this stage - I like to use a little basil and fresh oregano, but it is really fun to experiment with different flavours and aromas of herbs.
Add beef consomme and stock, can of tomatoes (Roma are often a favourite due to their sweetness), tomato paste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to the boil and simmer gently, covered until vegetables are tender, for around 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add pasta, I use the small shell pasta so that it is easy for my little ones to eat. Then add cabbage, zucchini and frozen peas and beans. Boil uncovered for 10 minutes or until these vegetables are soft also.
Serve steaming hot, topped with coarsely grated parmesan.
It's fun to experiment with the additional different herbs
Despite the time taken for cooking, it is pretty quick and very easy soup to make. Depending on what I have in the pantry, I might also include a potato or two, pumpkin or parsnip - all added in with the first batch of vegetables. Even a little frozen spinach, half a leek or fresh tomatoes make great additions, too. I have to admit sometimes I leave out the beans, which are not a particular favourite in this house.
It is such an easy recipe to adapt to your tastes, and no matter what I use, it seems to taste wonderful every time I make it. So in the cold weather, don't just reach for the closest tin or tub of minestrone soup - it really is worth taking a little extra time to make this delicious soup that the whole family will devour.