I’ve made up for the decade of not having many soup recipes with publishing so many in the last while. Maybe it’s the pandemic and the desire to minimize shop visits and eat comforting food that stretches a long way. Or maybe its because we are n a very cold winter and I’m looking for a bubbling bowl of soup right now. You guys have seemed to enjoy them too. Especially my best ever butternut soup recipe and a very delicious French onion soup which I have already made a second time this season. I decided to do a winter minestrone soup because it’s the perfect recipe to use up a variety of vegetables you have lying around and is hugely adaptable. A good dose of pasta goes in the mix and a liberal grating of Parmesan finishes it off, making this a very delicious and robust meal.
I have based this recipe very loosely around Ina Garten’s winter minestrone soup but changed up so much to make it the way I wanted it. What is important is to get all the vegetables cut small and more or less the same size and this is somewhat a labour of love. Depending on what vegetables you add, they will cook at different times so you need to add them at different stages. If you were adding softer vegetables like Zucchini they would need to go in near the end.
Ina added a tin of cannellini beans to her soup but for me, the pasta is enough. I also reduced the quantity slightly as I still wanted it to feel like soup and with 1 ¾ cups is more than enough. This winter minestrone teeters on the edge of soup and a stew-like pasta dish and is perfect for a weeknight supper.
Winter minestrone soup
- Olive oil
- 6 rashers of streaky bacon about 90-100gms diced
- 1½ cups chopped white onions
- 2 cups diced carrots about 4 medium carrots
- 1 1/2 cups diced celery about 3 large stalks
- 2½ cups diced peeled butternut 1 small butternut
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 2 x 410 gms tins of good quality Italian tomatoes chopped or tomato puree
- 6 to 8 cups chicken stock preferably homemade
- 1 bay leaf
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups cooked small pasta such as Ditalini
- 150 – 200gms fresh baby spinach leaves roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup 80ml good dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons store-bought pesto optional
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving
- Heat a glug of olive oil in a large heavy-based pot and fry the chopped bacon for about 4 minutes until the fat has rendered out and it starts to brown.
- Add the onions, carrots, celery, butternut, garlic, and thyme and cook over medium heat, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.
- Add the tomatoes, 6 cups of the chicken stock, the bay leaf, salt and pepper (depending on your flavour of the stock its best to season to taste here) and bring the soup to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
- While the minestrone is bubbling away, cook your pasta in salted water according to the pack instructions. Drain just a minute or two before it is al dente. Remove the bay and add the cooked pasta to the soup and heat through.
- The soup is quite thick but add more chicken stock if necessary. When you are ready to serve and the soup is heated through, add the spinach and fold it through the minestrone soup to wilt it. This happens quickly. Add the white wine and the pesto and allow to heat through for a minute or two. Check the seasoning adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve in bowls with freshly grated Parmesan and crunchy bread or bruschetta/toast.
A few of my favourite soups recipes:
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