Friday, June 15

An easy minestrone

I own some much-loved recipe books - Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries, Lorraine Pascal's Baking Made Easy, Peyton & Byrne's British Baking, The National Trust Teatime Baking Book - I could go on. And much-loved recipes too, yellowed cuttings from magazines and newspapers, little recipe cards, handwritten scrawls passed down through the family. But when the kitchen is full of 'bits' of ingredients left over from previous meals, I want to use them up rather than have to buy ingredients for another recipe.

So I improvise, and make something up.

Which sounds more impressive than it is, because anybody can make a soup out of what's-left-in-the-fridge-on-Friday. Really. And minestrone - this minestrone, anyway - is just that, a glorified soup-come-stew that will accept any withered old ingredient chucked its way and, given a bit of patience and slow simmering, transform it into the most tasty and satisfying of suppers.

Here's what I used. You can chop and change the ingredients to suit what's left in your kitchen - just keep the proportions of stock, vegetables, meat, carbs and seasoning the same, and you'll have a winner on your hands. And that slightly-past-it bag of greens in the back won't have gone to waste after all.

8 sausages
2 tbsp olive oil
4 small sticks celery
2 leeks
1 large onion
1 carrot
2 cloves garlic
Bunch of purple sprouting broccoli/shredded chard, cabbage, any greens
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin cannellini beans
1 litre stock (to match sausages, or a mix of beef and chicken, or veg)
Big handful fresh parsley
Small handful fresh thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Fry the sausages/meat you are using, or cook in oven as you normally would. Leave to cool a little.

Meanwhile, chop up the celery, leeks, onion and carrot and steam for 10 minutes until starting to soften.

Then fry this veg gently in olive oil for another 20-30 minutes - or as long as possible - until soft and tasty but not turning to mush.

Add the garlic, parsley, thyme and rosemary, stir to combine, then tip in the tomatoes and greens.

Mix together, and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the sausages/meat, chopped into manageable chunks.

Now begin to add the stock. Add about 700ml first, or enough to cover everything, then add more during simmering, as lots of liquid will be lost through evaporation. You will probably end up using the whole litre.

Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then simmer for as long as possible – the longer, the tastier. About 20 minutes before serving stir in the cannellini beans, or chopped up spaghetti.

Serve with foccacia or ciabatta bread. A basil pesto garnish is good too!


1 comment:

  1. You are a domestic GODDESS. I think I want to marry you.