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Seeing that Italy were playing today, I was tempted to use the opportunity to make my favourite Italian dish: lasagne but that felt like cheating really. Part of the point of “World Cup Cuisine” was to find new and interesting things to cook and while this isn’t all that new and exciting, it was something I’ve been wanting to cook for a while.
Most of the recipes I found used cabbage which I’m sure is lovely in winter but it made more sense to use some summer vegetables this time. The bunch of sad looking asparagus in the fridge might have had something to do with that decision too. The broad beans were a last minute addition, I excitedly threw them into the shopping basket yesterday without a plan to use them and I didn’t want them to go the way of the asparagus.
There’s quite a lot of chopping at the beginning of this dish but after that it’s just a case of leaving it to simmer on the hob long enough for the beans to cook. I added some basil at the end which provided a fragrant note to the sweet tomatoes and earthy beans. This makes good use of the interesting summer vegetables that are around while still being hearty enough for the colder ‘summer’ evenings we’re having.
Minestrone Soup – Serves Two
Tablespoon olive oil
2 rashers of bacon, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 stem rosemary, chopped
Teaspoon tomato purree
2 litres vegetable stock
100g dried haricot beans
Salt and pepper
50g spaghetti, snapped into three lengths (macaroni is probably more traditional)
Handful basil leaves
Handful parsley, chopped
Start by frying the bacon until the fat has rendered and then remove to a plate, discarding the excess oil.
Add some olive oil to the pan and gently sweat the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaf and rosemary for about 10 minutes. Add the tomato puree, stir to incorporate and cook for a minute or so.
Return the bacon to the pan and add the tinned tomatoes, the stock and the beans. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about two and a half hours, or until the beans are just tender. Keep an eye on the water levels and top up if necessary.
Season and then add the spaghetti. Cook for as long as the instructions on the spaghetti packet tell you to.
About eight minutes before the spaghetti is cooked*, add the asparagus and beans and cook until everything is tender. Add the basil and parsley, stir to incorporate. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
*This sounds like a criminally long time to cook young broad beans and asparagus but since there is not much water left at this point, they will take longer to cook than normal.