Monday, 10 October 2011

Minestrone Soup

There hasn't been a blog post in a while, but there has been illness abroad at Chez Soup.  And when there is illness, I always turn to the restorative powers of the soup - and this time it was the turn of Minestrone.  Everybody probably knows this soup. and it would seem that everybody has their own way of making it.  And that's the joy of soup - they can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish them to be.

However, my version of Minestrone is about as simple as you can get - and yet again it's an old family recipe - I remember my mum making huge dishes of this soup, served from a rather gaudy enamaled tureen that must have fallen through a timewarp from the 1970's (or probably actually was from the 1970's, come to think of it...) and it' probably the first meal that I ever cooked by myself - back in 19-something or other I was a fresh-faced schoolboy, studying home-economics and to impress the teacher, during one lesson, I brought in the ingredients and made a pan-full of Minestrone.  However, if memory serves, I mis-judged the quantity of stock needed and so what I ended up producing something much closer to a thick stew than a soup! Mu cooking has improved much since then...

Other Minestrone experiences I can remember are - my first ever Cup-a-soup (which started my life-long love affair with heavily processed foods, such as the humble cheese slice) and it's amazing chemically taste, and then tinned Minestrone, eaten out of a Muppets flask for lunch at school, and dipping cheese spread sandwiches into it...

Ah, the folly of youth!

Anyway, here is the recipe, a rich and hearty soup perfect for autumn evenings, and possibly for curing the common cold too...
 When making this soup, you can use any pasta you want, but I really like using Orzo or Pasta Rice - mainly because it doesn't swell up too much when it absorbs the liquid from the soup.

2 Small Onions
2 Carrots
3 Sticks Celery
1 Leek
200g Dark Cabbage
150g Smoked Back Bacon
1 Tin Chopped Tomatoes
100g Pasta
50g Butter
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Cup Red Wine
1tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1.5l Chicken Stock
2tsp Fresh Thyme
2tsp Fresh Basil
2tsp Fresh Parsley

To Garnish
Parmesan Shavings

Heat the butter in a large pan.  To this, add the bacon, chopped finely, and fry until the bacon starts to brown.

Remove the pan from the heat and remove the bacon, placing it on some kitchen towel to soak up the excess butter.  Now return the pan to the heat and add the carrots, onion, celery, leek cabbage and garlic, all shredded, grated or finely chopped, depending on how chunky you like your soup, and sweat in the butter for 3-5 minutes, adding more butter or olive oil if the pan gets too dry and the vegetables start to stick.

Once the vegetables are nice and soft, add the tomatoes, red wine and balsamic vinegar, and bring to the boil, cooking over a high heat for a few minutes before adding the stock and herbs.  Also at this point, put the bacon back into the pan as well. 

Cover the soup and cook for 30-40 minutes, then add the pasta and cook for another 10 minutes.  Check to make sure the pasta is cooked through, season to taste and serve.  Garnish with parmesan and eat with crusty bread.  Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. I've got a special jar set aside for the bits of pasta at the bottom of packets that won't make a full portion. This is what I use to add to stews and soups.