After a morning spent at the local farmer's market, I needed to find a use for my bagful of fresh veggies. With the shivery weather encroaching, a big warm hug in a bowl was in order.
Minestrone has been an Italian staple since Roman times and belongs to the cucina povera ("poor kitchen") style, meaning food with rustic or rural origins. It was rarely made intentionally and much like now, it was a fantastic way to use up leftovers or empty out the fruit and veggie drawer.
After consulting with the Woman's Weekly, Jamie Oliver, Nigella and raiding the racks of rustic recipes online, I gathered my shiny new ingredients and made it up as I went along.
Just as the Romans intended.
For my minimal exertions, I got an easy, flavoursome, healthy, wintery comfort dish which left me no room for dessert. Result.
So, although there's no official recipe for minestrone, here's mine:
2 carrots 3 celery sticks
1 small red chilli 1/2 red onion 2 spring onions
1/3 cup fresh continental parsley
4 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp dried rosemary (or chopped fresh rosemary if you prefer)
1.25L beef or vegetable stock
A dash of red wine
A dash of balsamic vinegar
1 can borlotti beans (kidney or cannellini beans will also work)
2 cans of tinned diced tomatoes
1 cup small pasta (eg: macaroni, spirals, bow ties, etc)
3 bacon rashers
Pepper to taste (no salt – the bacon and parmesan will do this for you)
Parmesan cheese, to serve
1. Finely chop onions and chilli.
2. Chop other vegetables into chunks.
3. Place bacon into a large pot and stir until almost cooked.
4. Add minced garlic and fresh vegetables and stir for approx. 5 minutes.