A few weeks ago after one of our trips to the Collingwood Children’s Farm, we stopped in at Lentil as Anything at the Abbotsford Convent, where you pay whatever you like for what you eat. The food is always great, and is usually different every time you go. I usually get a bit of everything (it’s all vegetarian), and my plate looks like it doesn’t make much sense, but I’ve never walked out of there disappointed. Including my recent trip when they had a huge pot of steaming minestrone soup.
Not usually one for tomato-based anything, I grabbed a bowl anyway (although I’ve been known to minestrone from time to time after I tried someone’s once and it had chickpeas in it and I was converted) and headed out to eat. It was super-light and not tomatoey-overpowering at all. Having said that, I once had a gazpacho that tasted like cold pasta sauce and I strangely didn’t hate it.
Anyway I downed that bowl like nobody’s business, and then craved it all the next week. It was kind of like a vegetable soup with a fresh tomato flavour, as opposed to anything rich and heavy. I grabbed a soup pack from the supermarket (the one I go to is run by Italians and can I say it basically has the best-stocked supermarket I’ve ever seen!) with turnip and celery and onion and whatever and set to work.
Safe to say, it was awesome. I was initially skeptical that a soup made from water as opposed to stock would be pretty tasteless, but I was wrong. Maybe because I cooked it for 200 years, and put a parmesan-style cheese rind in it, but boy howdy, this was a good soup. We had it for dinner with a crusty herb bread, then I ate the rest every day for lunch for the next four days. For someone who can’t eat the same thing two days in a row, that’s saying something! It really does benefit from long, slow cooking, and the rind, so if you’re into soup in a hurry you should probably make it with stock. If you’re happy to let it bubble away and top up with water as necessary, then go the Veggie Mama road! Let me know how you go – are you usually a minestrone fan?
Oh and I didn’t put pasta in this one because I’m lazy (had I, it would have been stelline, because that shit is the best), but you can go right ahead and add whatever you like. I’m not your mum!
(Yes I am, use the stelline…)Print
Long, slow cooking makes this the most flavoursome minestrone with only simple ingredients.
- olive oil
- 1 Large onion, diced fine
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 sticks celery, diced small
- 1 Large turnip, diced small
- 2 Large carrots, diced small
- 800g canned tomatoes
- 5 cups water (will need extra)
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 Large bay leaf
- 1 Small pinch sugar
- salt and pepper
- 1 Medium parmesan-style cheese rind
- 400g cannellini beans
- a handful of small pasta or broken spaghetti
- In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, celery and carrot.
- Saute for about 10-15 minutes, turning heat down if it’s too much. You want a fair bit of colour and caramelisation over the veggies, as this is what is going to provide the flavour. I often cook mine for 20 minutes or more.
- When you’re happy with the colour on the veggies, add the turnip and canned tomatoes, the water, basil, oregano, bay leaf and pinch of sugar.
- Bring to a boil, then return to a simmer for as long as you’ve got. Pop in your piece of parmesan-style cheese rind and let it do its thing. I simmer mine over low heat for about three hours, topping up with water as necessary to the level I wanted – I don’t mind a bit of broth as opposed to veggies, but you keep an eye on it to keep it at the ratio you want.
- For the last hour, add the rinsed and drained cannellini and small pasta
- Taste for seasoning. This soup only gets better so feel free to make it the day before you need it, or enjoy for leftovers!
- Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
Keywords: easy minestrone, vegetarian minestrone, bulk minestrone, minestrone soup recipe