Thanks to a bunch of exams and other equally annoying issues, it’s been aaages since I last posted on the blog. I’ve been meaning to share this recipe for a while now, after making it over the holidays. Christmas happens to be my favourite time of the year. There are few things I miss more than the glow of fairy lights on freshly fallen snow, and the sweet scent of cinnamon at the wake of dawn. Either way, I digress. I made this soup almost as a form of therapy, and because it seemed like a scrumptious thing to do. What could be better than a big steaming bowl of minestrone soup on a cold day?
Anytime I’m walking by a vegetable stall selling red, ripe, fat tomatoes I have to resist the urge to buy a whole basket full. This recipe is dedicated to my love of fresh produce and Italian food. It filled me up with nice warm thoughts, and I hope it does for you as well.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Peas (about a cup)
- Chopped carrots (half a cup)
- 2 Small onions or 1 large onion chopped
- Cloves of garlic (5 or per preference)
- Green beans (1 cup)
- Potatoes (1 cup)
- Corn Kernels (half a cup)
- Macaroni or any other shape of pasta (half a cup)
- 8 Large tomatoes
- Basil (preferably fresh, but dry will do just fine)
- Parmesan cheese (to sprinkle over the top)
- Pepper (just a pinch)
- Salt to taste
- Chilli Flakes (optional)
Fry the onions until they are just translucent- you don’t want little golden bits in this recipe, although yes those are delicious. Add the beans and potatoes to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally for just a few minutes. When the potatoes begin to soften slightly, mix in the garlic and carrots, stirring to make sure the garlic doesn’t brown. Throwing in garlic right at the beginning increases the chances of destroying the flavor, something I learnt the hard way when I burnt a piece of garlic toast to an absolute bitter crisp. To be fair, I was quite young back then, though not any less adventurous with food. Season with salt, pepper and some basil.
Once your veggies are softened, add in the tomatoes, and cook until they break down. You can use canned tomatoes for this recipe; I just love the satisfaction of chopping fresh ones. Pour in three or four cups of water and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir in the peas and corn and let the soup boil for about five to ten minutes, to let all the flavors melt into one another. You can add in some chilli flakes as well if you like, for a little kick.
At this stage, add in some pasta of your choice and let the soup cook for an additional eight to ten minutes depending on the instructions given on the box. Pasta when cooked with other ingredients tends to take a little longer, so make sure you taste and ensure that it’s aldente. About a minute before it’s cooked to your liking, mix in the spinach and stir gently.
One of the worst mistakes people make (me included at one point) is to overcook spinach. You want the greens to wilt, yet still retain their colour, and texture. They don’t need more than a minute or two on the stove.
Taste your soup, checking for seasoning. Serve hot with a generous (or if you’re me, maybe excessive) amount of grated Parmesan cheese, a few basil leaves, and voilà! Bon Appetit!
Yields 4 servings.