Italian minestrone

The Italians don’t just do pizza and pasta brilliantly, they also invented this comforting, wholesome soup. Italian minestrone really is a meal in a bowl. This dish is a thick soup of Italian origin made with vegetables, often with the addition of pasta or rice. Common ingredients include beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock, and tomatoes. This is a very hearty vegetable minestrone soup. Italian minestrone can be made vegetarian if you substitue the beef and chicken broth with all vegetable broth. You can add the cooked pasta at the end, or leave out for a lower carb option. You may also want to add a couple spoonfulls of pre-cooked ground italian sausage to your bowl before serving. Top with a sprinkle of parmesean cheese for taste and you won’t be disappointed: I’ve been eating it for over 30 years and I can’t get enough of this healthy, tasty dish.

INGREDIENTSitalian minestrone
175g piece round pancetta
50ml olive oil
1 leek, trimmed, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 (200g) sebago potato, peeled, finely chopped
350g savoy cabbage, trimmed, cut into 1cm pieces
1 bay leaf
1.5L chicken or vegetable stock
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoesitalian minestrone 3
175g ditali or other small soup pasta
400g can borlotti beans, rinsed, drained
2 tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
12 basil leaves, torn
200g parmesan, finely grated

DIRECTIONS
Remove rind from pancetta in one piece and reserve, then chop pancetta into small pieces. Heat oil in a large saucepan over low–medium heat, then add pancetta, leek, garlic, carrots, celery, potato, cabbage and bay leaf. Cover with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Remove lid.

Add reserved pancetta rind, stock and tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in pasta and beans, increase heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Cover, then reduce heat to low–medium and cook for a further 8 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Remove and discard pancetta rind, then stir in parsley and basil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls, scatter over parmesan and serve Italian minestrone immediately.

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