Early Summer Minestrone

Home grown veg, no matter how small or misshapen, are a world away from those bought from the supermarket. It has that something special, it’s been cared for by you, it’s got soul. Over the year homegrown veg can provide you with so many fresh and vibrant tastes; from the earliest of peas and beans, to the sugary sweetcorn of late summer, to the pumpkins and roots of autumn.
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This soup is like taking a seasonal look at the plot. It’s a vehicle for the fabulously mixed flavours of the allotment this month (or any month actually). At its base is a great chicken stock and a softened soffritto (the classic Italian soup and sauce base); but apart from that the soup is about using what is available. As such a recipe is not what you need to make this, all you need to do is go to the garden and pick what is in season. The soup benefits from the freshest of vegetables, balanced with a good source of carbs. In huge spirit of adding what you have in season, then this should be potatoes or dried beans. I often use broken pasta or some of the tiny pasta shapes like orzo, combined with small dice potatoes and cannellini or a similar bean.

You will need (serves 4)
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 carrots, cut into fine dice
2 sticks of celery, cut into fine dice
Seasonal vegetables of your choice (at the moment a couple of handfuls of fresh peas and broad beans, 3 large leaves of Swiss chard, shredded, but any veg works)
1.5l good quality chicken stock
1 potato, cut into 2cm dice
100g cooked and drained haricot beans (or whatever bean you have)
150g pasta (I’ve used broken bits of pasta, but orzo or another small pasta is great too)
Grated parmesan and a few mint or basil leaves, to serve

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and add the onion and garlic, softening for 5 minutes, before adding the carrot and celery and softening further. Add the rest of the seasonal vegetables in order of cooking time (peas won’t take as long as courgette for example) and allow to soften slightly. Stir in the potato, stir for a moment, then add the stock, the cannellini beans and pasta. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes until the potato and pasta are cooked. Season to taste, drizzle with some olive oil, a grating of parmesan and some torn mint leaves.

 

 

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