Christmas is over and everyone wants to feel virtuous about what they are eating after the extravagances of the holidays. You want to set a good example for the year to come – healthy eating, exercise, not spending too much money blah blah. Well I am going hermit in January, hiding the credit card, no weekend trips to Zara saying I am just looking and then coming out with a bag full of new clothes, this means I am going to need some kitchen distractions ! One of the best ways to hit all your new year resolutions in one easy recipe is with soup! Not just any old soup but a hearty Italian soup that has had many reincarnations, everyone has their own version or wants to add something different and yes ok, it may not end up being the traditional minestrone soup you would get in Italy but its darn tasty!
I know I know, I am always posting soup recipes, and sometimes I do wonder if I eat anything other than soup… I do by the way…. but soup is great, its easy to make, it freezes and its cheap. So in frugal hermit January, a good minestrone soup is cheap, healthy and full of goodness. My recipe is loosely based on the one by Delia Smith in the bible of cooking ‘ Delia Smiths Complete Illustrated Cookery Course’ – in fact I think this soup recipe may have been one of the very first things I made for my family as a young teenager. Like I said, you can add or subtract to the recipe depending on what is seasonal – if you do not like cabbage you can add courgette, or hell add it in as well. You can use streaky bacon or pancetta depending on what you have in or prefer. I don’t usually add beans as there is macaroni in it, but if you want something a bit heartier then go crazy and throw in some cannelini beans or chickpeas!
But for now, here is my take on that delicious Minestrone Soup!
serves – 4-5 people
100g streaky bacon
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 celery stalks finely chopped
175g carrots, finely chopped
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 clove of garlic crushed
1 tbsp tomato puree
1.5l of vegetable stock
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
175g leeks finely chopped
175g green cabbage finely shredded
salt and pepper
To serve – grated parmesan and crusty bread!
1. In a large pan heat the oil and cook the bacon for a couple of minutes until cooked and starting to brown, then add the onions, celery and carrots and stir. Lower the heat and sweat the vegetables down for 10-15mins ( covered, but stir occasionally to make sure they do not stick).
2. Then add the garlic, tomatoes, tomato puree and stock. Add the herbs and season. Let this all simmer, covered on a low heat for 30minutes. Then add the leeks, cabbage and macaroni. Let this all simmer for another 30minutes, string occasionally.
3. Check the macaroni is cooked all the way through, and then take the soup off the heat. Check the seasoning and if ok, serve the soup in deep bowls and top with lots of parmesan cheese!