Early autumn minestrone

IMG_7897
IMG_7897

Early autumn minestrone

By Sonia Sultana      

February 15, 2016

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  • Cook: 1 hr 5 mins
  • 1 hr 5 mins

    1 hr 5 mins

  • Yields: 4 Servings
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Ingredients

200 g cannellini or borlotti beans , fresh or dried and soaked overnight

1 bay leaf

1 tomato , squashed

1 small potato , peeled

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

olive oil

4 rashers higher-welfare smoked pancetta or bacon

2 small red onions , peeled and finely chopped

2 carrots , peeled and chopped

2 sticks celery , trimmed and chopped

½ head fennel , chopped

3 cloves garlic , peeled and finely chopped

1 small bunch fresh basil , leaves and stalks separated

2x400 g good-quality tinned plum tomatoes

1 glass red wine

2 small courgettes , quartered and sliced

200 g chard or spinach , washed and roughly sliced (including stalks)

565 ml organic chicken, ham or vegetable stock

55 g dried pasta

1 block Parmesan cheese , to serve

Directions

Add your fresh or dried and soaked beans to a pan of water with the bay leaf, squashed tomato and potato – this will help to flavour the beans and soften their skins. Cook until tender – check by tasting. They must be soft. Dried beans can take up to an hour, but check fresh ones after 25 minutes. Drain (reserving about half a glass of the cooking water), and discard the bay leaf, tomato and potato. Now season with salt, pepper and a splash of oil.

While the beans are cooking, make your soffrito. Heat a good splash of olive oil in a saucepan and add the chopped pancetta or bacon, onions, carrots, celery, fennel, garlic and the finely sliced basil stalks. Sweat very slowly on a low heat, with the lid just ajar, for around 15 to 20 minutes until soft, but not brown. Add the tomatoes, courgettes and red wine and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Now add the chard or spinach, stock and beans. Put the dried pasta into a polythene bag, squeeze all the air out and tie the end up. Bash gently with a rolling pin to break the pasta into pieces. Snip the end off the bag and empty the contents into the soup. Stir and continue to simmer until the pasta is cooked.

If you think the soup is looking too thick, add a little more stock or some of the reserved cooking water to thin it down a bit. Then taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the torn-up basil leaves and with some extra virgin olive oil drizzled over the top. Put a block of Parmesan and a grater on the table for everyone to help themselves. Heaven!

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Nutrition Facts

Serving Size1
Calories321
Protein17.2g
Sugar14.6g
Total Fat6.6g
Saturated Fat1.5g
Total Carbohydrates36.9g

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