This is a vegetarian version, but if you want to make this more substantial and meaty, use beef stock as the base and 50 grams of chopped pancetta in the pan with the onion.
By Emiko Davies
This is a vegetarian version, but if you want to make this more substantial and meaty, use beef stock as the base and 50 grams of chopped pancetta in the pan with the onion. A little trick of casalinghe to add some flavour to a vegetable soup is also to throw in the thick rind of Parmesan cheese when you can no longer grate anything else from it – it adds lovely flavour and when it’s softened in the warm soup, you can eat it too (strict vegetarians, just be aware that real Parmesan cheese is made with real animal rennet).
- Homemade beef or vegetable stock, about 1 litre or enough to cover the vegetables
- Roughly chopped seasonal vegetables (see suggestions above – in this one I used 2 yellow squash, 1 zucchini, some freshly shelled peas) plus the vegetables below
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- ½ stalk of celery, chopped1 small potato, cut into 1-cm cubes
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 Bay leaves
- A tin of borlotti beans, drained
- ½ Tin of whole, peeled tomatoes (or 2 or 3 fresh Roma tomatoes)
- 50 grams of pasta (the tiny shapes like risoni, stelline etc are perfect), rice or farro
- A handful of parsley, both stalk and leaves, chopped
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Toasted slices of bread for each bowl
- Olive oil
- Gently heat the diced onion and chopped garlic in some olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the parsley stalks, the bay leaves, chopped celery and carrot. When the onion begins to become translucent, add the other seasonal vegetables, beans, tomato and some small-shaped pasta, rice or farro. Cover with stock, bring to the boil and place a lid on top and cook until the vegetables are tender.
- If you have really delicate Spring vegetables, you can put them in towards the end so that they are still bright and have a slight bite to them. If you want something lighter (minestra), leave out the beans and the pasta, rice or farro.
- Serve the minestrone with a piece of toasted bread in the bottom or on the side of the bowl, plenty of grated Parmesan cheese, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and chopped parsley on top.
Emiko Davies is a food writer, photographer and illustrator who Amanda Hesser calls the "Renaissance Woman for the Internet Era". She lived in Florence, Italy, for seven years where she nurtured her love of regional Italian cuisine and now calls Australia's food capital, Melbourne, her home.