I’ve an Italian cookbook which has over 20 minestrones listed from all over Italy. The Puglian entry, not surprisingly, includes cima de rapa and chicory. Like all good soups though, you can make it with whatever you’ve got in the garden and/or freezer. For me a good minestrone should also contain cooked beans and either short pasta or rice. So here’s my version – I make loads so we can turn it into ribollita (which means re-boiled, even though it gets baked) the following day.
2.5 pints of veg stock or water
good splash of olive oil
large onion (finely chopped)
celery stick (finely chopped)
2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
2 carrots (finely chopped)
2 potatoes (cut into small dice)
2 courgettes (finely chopped)
Handful of chard roughly chopped
Handful of chopped french beans and/or peas from the freezer
3 medium tomatoes, peeled or finely chopped or a splash of passata
1 bay leaf
2 cups of cooked beans (cannellini or borlotti, for example)
Cup-full of rice or small pasta shapes
3-5 tablespoons of pesto (seriously very good)
grated Parmesan to serve
Heat the stock to simmering in one pot. In another heat the oil and stir in the onion (and leek if you have any) and cook until onion softens. Add carrots, celery, garlic and potato and cook for five mins stirring frequently.
Pour in stock and herbs and seasoning and simmer for 15 mins. Stir in freezer veg, chard, courgettes and tomatoes. Cover the pan and simmer for around 10 mins until veg tender. About 10 mins before serving soup add beans, pasta or rice (you may need to add more liquid). When cooked stir in the pesto. Allow soup to stand for a few mins before serving with cheese.
To make ribollita the following day, add shredded green cabbage to the soup. Put some crusty bread in the bottom of a casserole dish cover with soup (you may need to add more liquid), then cover soup with thinly sliced onion. Sprinkle with olive oil and pepper. Cook in the oven until the onion has softened.