A friend of mine decided to have a soup night at her house over the weekend because it’s been awhile since any of us had any big party. But of course this meant some of us would have to make soup so that there would be enough to go around. I didn’t know the exact numbers that we were anticipating, but knowing that there were two other soups – leek and potato and french onion, being made I thought it might be better if I did something different. I like cooking soups because they’re straightforward and make so many servings, but I had never actually made my own soup of any sort until soup night rolled around. I thought about what I could make that would give a little more nutrition, but also account for the fact that I didn’t have a lot of time or money to spend on ingredients and cooking. I settled one one soup I was sure I could make my own version of with little fuss or worry, Minestrone. It’s a very hearty soup filled with vegetables, tomato, stock and any sort of meat, pasta or rice you choose to add. I know it as being a cheap and filling soup, but in fact this dish has a longer history.
It’s originally an italian soup, made with whatever vegetables are in season and bulked up with meat and pasta. But this simple soup has really evolved over time, being mostly vegetarian at the start and then becoming more commonly meat-filled as time wore on. I have actually never been a big fan of Minsetrone because I only ever encountered it in tin-form. But I thought that handmaking it would give it that something that tinned soups lack, and I was right. It was a bit touch and go in terms of spices, particularly as I forgot to add pepper. But as soon as I had the chopped sage, the pancetta and the onion in the pan I knew it was going to be all right. It smelt divine, and the smell only improved as I added more and more to it. I was happy with the final product, and given that there was barely any left at the end of the night I can assume that most of the other soup night go-ers were happy with this dish as well. It was a good night, especially as I had the chance to test out if the new tripod would help me cope with the low lighting. It worked! I have my amazing boyfriend to thank for that, as he found it when we were examining goods at revolve. I got it and three baking trays for ten dollars! So as you can imagine, I had a pretty great day!
Serves: up to 10, Prep: 35-40 mins, Cook: 50mins
- 1 tin of Borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
- 100g Pancetta, diced
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 litre gluten free chicken stock (I used Massel chicken stock)
- 1 small bunch of sage, chopped
- 1 brown onion, diced
- Olive oil
- 2 desiree potatoes, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 400g of diced tomato, plus two tablespoons extra
- 2 bay leaves
- Prepare all of the vegetables and set aside, and then tip the pancetta and the onion into a soup pot along with the sage and olive oil.
- Cook these up until the onion is nicely browned, and then add the vegetables. Stir the mix for a few minutes, and then add the liquids, that is the stock and tomato, and finally the bay leaves.
- Bring this mix to the boil and then reduce the temperature to a simmer. Simmer for forty minutes. After forty minutes is up, add the beans and simmer for another five.
- Remove the bay leaves and serve with warm, crusty bread.