Minimalist Minestrone Soup
Minestrone is a traditional Tuscan soup of vegetables and beans. I love how the juices from the beans give this soup a dense soupy texture. They also add a rich slow cooked depth of flavour. You’ll think your adopted Italian nonna has been simmering the soup for hours rather than the quick 5 minutes you’ve actually allowed.
enough for: 2
takes: 10 minutes
2 cloves garlic, peeled & finely sliced
1 medium zucchini, finely sliced into coins
1 can tomatoes (400g / 14oz)
1 can cannellini beans (400g /14oz), or other white beans
4 tablespoons pesto, to serve
1. Heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan.
2. Cook zucchini and garlic over a medium high heat for a few minutes, or until the zucchini is starting to soften.
3. Add tomatoes, beans and the juice from the cans. Simmer for another 5 minutes or until the zucchini is cooked through.
4. Taste and season.
5. Serve hot with pesto on top.
This can easily be made a few days in advance (keeping the pesto separate) and stored in the fridge or freezer. Pesto is best added at the last minute to the hot soup.
carnivores – add cooked chicken, sausages, bacon or little pancetta to the zucchini when it’s cooking but be careful it doesn’t take over the whole soup.
vegan – use a dairy-free pesto like my Sicilian Nut Pesto. Or replace the pesto with a handful of fresh basil or parsley leaves.
dairy-free – use a dairy-free pesto like my Sicilian Nut Pesto. Or replace the pesto with a handful of fresh basil or parsley leaves.
more veg – feel free to play around with the vegetables here. I love zucchini, but you could also throw in some carrot, spinach, kale, carrot, parsnip or cabbage – particularly the black cabbage called cavalo nero, commonly used in Tuscany.
carb lovers / more substantial – serve with crusty bread and olive oil or toss in some cooked pasta before serving.
paleo – replace beans with extra veg. Dairy-free pesto.
Problem Solving Guide
too bland – because we’re not using stock, expect to add more salt than you normally would for a stock based soup. If you have the rind of some parmesan, it can be simmered in with the soup for a subtle cheesy flavour – just remember to fish the hunk out before serving.
don’t have any pesto?– no problem. The soup is lovely without, although quite different. You could also replace the pesto with a generous handful of freshly grated parmesan OR a handful of fresh basil leaves or even parsley.
missing the pasta? – traditional minestrone usually has small pieces of cooked pasta simmered in the stock. Feel free to add some small cooked pasta in with the beans.
got some veggies that need using up
– Minestrone is your solution. Wonderfully versatile, it would be great if you had the time to soften some onion, celery and / or carrot with the zucchini. Green beans, peas or even cooked eggplant would all be delicious!
Waste Avoidance Guide
garlic – pantry in the dark or a brown paper bag to prevent sprouting.
zucchini – will keep for 2 weeks or longer in a plastic bag in the fridge. To keep it even longer, cook sliced zucchini in a little butter until just soft then store in an airtight container in the fridge.
can tomatoes / can cannellini beans – keep in the pantry.
pesto – commercial jars of pesto will keep for months in the pantry. Fresh pesto will keep in the fridge for a few weeks. Cover with olive oil to prevent exposure to air and browning reactions.
Wonderful on it’s own.
In Tuscany, if you reheat minestrone with some stale torn up bread and black cabbage (cavalo nero) you get another beautiful soup called ribolitta – so don’t be afraid to keep adding to the pot the next day.
Will keep in the fridge for at least a week or more and freezes well.