One of the great things about living in Melbourne (apart from Grossi Florentino!) is that the moment you get used to balmy summer nights BOOM it’s cold…like the very next day, without any warning whatsoever. So apart from enjoying the sound of crunching autumn leaves under your over priced winter boots this month, the cooler weather is a signal that it’s time for soup! And if you are like me, a real lover of anything cosy and warm, snuggle in and check out our guide to Nonna’s Minestrone.
This is my go-to meal when my fridge is full of veggies I need to use or I’m after a dinner I can prep in advance or I am wanting to make something that freezes well for those not-so-Nigella days. Aside from all these practical applications, my main priority is to make my little family a meal they can come home to and just feel really warm and cosy against those bitter days when it feels as though the cold air has penetrated your bones (#dramaticmuch).
So, below you will find our guide to Nonna’s Minestrone. We pass on this little gem of a recipe with a small disclaimer….Minestrone can be anything you want it to be. On the day I made this for my family, I simply used what I had in the fridge, that truthfully needed to be used or would otherwise be thrown away. There are probably thousands of variations of recipes for this type of soup available online – this is ours and we hope you enjoy it.
You will need:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
One brown onion, chopped finely
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into small pieces
About 500grams of pumpkin, peeled, desseded and chopped into small pieces
2 celery stalks, chopped into small pieces
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small pieces
½ cup of dried soup mix (or dried lentils if you prefer, or a tin of cannellini beans, or a tin of chickpeas – the possibilities are endless!)
2 zucchinis, chopped into small pieces
2 litres of vegetable stock
Shaved parmesan cheese to serve (optional)
Crusty, warm bread (not optional in our house!)
It’s as simple as this…
Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add onion and stir for a few minutes, until it has softened. Now pop all those chopped veggies in the pot and give them a good stir, allowing the beautiful colours to mix and be coated in the oil and onion.
Time to add your stock. I tend to use enough to cover the veggies. You can add your dried soup mix now too. Allow all of this soupy gorgeousness come to a boil. Then it’s time to pop the heat down and allow to simmer gently. I tend to simmer for at least a good hour, so the veggies are slightly mushy (great for the youngest one in our fam), otherwise you may prefer your veggies to be slightly firmer…just keep tasting through the simmering process to establish what best suits your preference. You might find you will need to add some more stock throughout the cooking process, if you are finding the minestrone is becoming a little dry.
In the meantime, have some beautiful fresh bread on hand. We like ours toasted, and cut some little soldiers for the little one to dip into her soup.
Pssssst…My mum has an awesome trick for putting us all into a food coma by laying slices of bread onto an oven tray, sprinkling with olive oil, dried oregano and dried garlic and toasting in the oven until the bread is a little golden – it is the most delicious and satisfying accompaniment to soup I have ever had!!
The simple things in life are often the best, and Nonna’s Minestrone sings of traditional Italian flavours that can be repeated and recrafted in many different ways.
On that note, buon appetito!