When Mark and I woke up to freezing temperatures last weekend I thought it was about time I made us a big batch of steaming hot soup. Well, to be honest the first idea I had was more along the lines of a creamy comfort food dish like spaghetti carbonara but since I’ve been trying to lose some of my ‘winter coat’ lately (aka the few extra kilos I seem to have accumulated this season) I thought that a soup might be a wiser choice. ;)
I did go for a hearty soup mind you and made an Italian minestrone which was packed full with lovely vegetables (and a little bit of pasta for good measure). It was beautifully thick, rich and delicious – just what I needed to curl up on the sofa with a blanket and the latest episode of True blood.
Ingredients (serves 4)
100g pancetta, chopped (or bacon)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 potato, cubed
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can (400g) of crushed tomatoes
1 cup of baby spinach leaves
1 can (300g) of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
5 cups of chicken stock
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup of small pasta (optional)
1 tbs Fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
Parmesan and bread to serve (optional)
Variation: This is a very forgiving recipe so you can use a different mix of vegetables according to what you have on hand (zucchini, cabbage, peppers etc). You could even omit some of the vegetables all together.
Yummy idea: use Kale instead of spinach leaves (but add them in 10 min earlier as they take longer to cook).
Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the pancetta and saute for a couple of minutes before successively adding in the onions, garlic, celery, carrots and potato. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes, stir to combine and top the vegetables with the chicken stock. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 30mins or until the vegetables are tender.
Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the package’s instructions. Drain and keep the pasta aside.
Add the cannellini beans, cooked pasta, spinach and parsley to the soup. Gently stir over low heat for a few minutes until the spinach leaves are wilted and all the vegetables are heated through.
Season with salt and pepper.
Enjoy with a touch of Parmesan and a slice of crusty bread.