There's nothing mini about Minestrone
I'd never made a minestrone soup before. It's been on the "to do list" for a long time. It's delicious hearty fayre for the winter, and I love all the different textures and the enormous satisfaction one gets from finding pasta in one's soup.
Having poked around a bit, I found hundreds (literally) of recipes. There are ten in the bible of Italian cooking, The Silver Spoon, alone.
The basic gist seems to be a selection of seasonal vegetables, a handful of broken or small pasta, and a stock to carry the whole thing. It seemed like one of those "there are no rules" things, so I made my own basic recipe.
Some recipes specify meat stock, some specify vegetable stock, but either way it goes without saying that the better your stock, the more delicious your soup will be.
Currently we have no homemade stock around, so I used as good a shop bought as I could find.
The end result is essentially a broth and, unlike some other soups, the stock is a major player in the flavour, so in future I may well make the soup when I have made a decent stock.
That said, the results of this were far from un-good. Most of the veg gives its flavours up to the broth, while the sweetcorn adds little bursts of sweetness and retains its crunch, even after a re-heat. Parmesan is often added to the top of Italian soups, when they're served - usually at the table. I highly advise it!
Olive oil - just enough to cover the base of a deep pan
1 Rasher Smoked Streaky Bacon - chopped
1 Leek - sliced
1 Carrot - diced
2 medium sized Potatoes - diced
1 fat clove of Garlic - finely sliced
1 3/4 litres of good stock
1 Sweetcorn Cob - just the corn cut away from the centre (or 1/2 tin of sweetcorn)
1 Large Tomato - deseeded and diced
1 small tin of butter beans drained (this is what was in the cupboard. Feel free to use different beans)
100g of pastina or broken spaghetti
1/4 cabbage or a handful of spring greens, finely sliced
Parmesan and Parsley to garnish
Heat the oil in a deep, heavy based pan, over a medium heat. Add the bacon and fry until it has rendered it's fat, and crisps up.
Add the leek and carrot and continue to fry for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Try not to let the leeks catch, as this can make them taste bitter.
Throw in the potatoes and garlic, stir together, then pour in the stock and beans. Simmer for five minutes, then add the corn and pasta.
Simmer for a further five minutes before adding the tomato, then a further five before stirring in the cabbage.
After two minutes more, the soup is ready to be served in warm bowls, garnished with grated Parmesan and chopped parsley, or even a spoonful of pesto, with bread by the side.